GPS jamming has become increasingly common, but researchers predict a new threat to the crucial navigation and timing system, fake signals designed to confuse or mislead.
Conference organizer Bob Cockshott said civilian GPS signals have no security built into them, making them easy to fake. While Mr Cockshott said he did not know of any successful case of spoofing having been carried out, researchers have seen evidence of basic attempts being made.
However, he said that the weakness “has been demonstrated by universities using equipment in the order of $1,000 — within the capacity of the geek in his bedroom, and certainly well within the price range of organized crime.”
GPS signals are extremely weak. According to a report presented to the U.S. National Transportation Systems Center in 1998, the GPS signal is equivalent to the light coming from a 25-watt bulb 11,000 miles away.
Jamming this weak signal is increasingly becoming common, said Mr. Cockshott. “We are seeing several hits a day in some areas.”
Vehicle-borne ‘jammers’ are available online and are often used to mask vehicle tracking systems, typically by moonlighting workers, he said.
By replacing the genuine GPS signal with a fake one, he said, “you could move the entire exchange or you could move individual computers away.”
GPS is also used to provide a timing signal for things like the electricity distribution grid. Even a minor disruption to that would have obvious effects.
Via Javier Pagès López