Access and Feeds

GPS Spoofs: Core Infrastructure Vulnerable to Hacking

By Dick Weisinger

The Global Positions System (GPS) is based on 32 navigational satellites that transmit location and time information. GPS enables accurate navigation of planes, boats and vehicles, and an increasing amount of critcal infrastructure is dependent on it.

At any time, there are four satellites overhead within line of sight that can be used to accurately calculate position and movement. GPS satellites transmit two signals, one unencrypted for public use, and another encrypted for the sole use by the US military. Most GPS receivers rely on the unencrypted signal being transmitted.

Without encryption, GPS signals are easy to spoof. There have been experiments showing that navigational equipment can be easily tricked, causing devices and vehicles to be remotely steered off their intended path. Low cost devices are now readily available that can spoof GPS signals.

GPS vulnerability is being exploited by hackers and has become a tool of cyberwarfare. Yonatan Zur, CEO of Regulus Cyber, said that “it is very hard to locate and identify attacks on the Global Navigation Satellite System, making them a very good tool for terrorists, hackers and others . . . sometimes you can be under such attacks for days without being able to pinpoint the source.”

A report earlier this year estimated that almost 10,000 incidents of Russia spoofing GPS signals to protect sensitive locations. The report found that extensive GPS jamming and spoofing occurs in locations near to where Putin is currently located. Similarly GPS spoofing was used extensively in Syria and Kaliningrad.

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