Next you know, someone in Hollywood will be shopping a script which involves a super-villain taking control of spacecraft as part of a plot for world domination + profit. No wait...
Paris, because she never got to be a Bond girl.
Students from the University of Texas successfully piloted an $80m superyacht sailing 30 miles offshore in the Mediterranean Sea by overriding the ship's GPS signals without any alarms being raised. The team, led by assistant professor Todd Humphreys from UT Austin's department of aerospace engineering and engineering …
This is why good navigation systems, for military aircraft & weapons (e.g. JDAM) for example, also have an inertial navigation system (INS) in them and use that as the primary navigation sensor. If the GPS location is much outside the INS integration error, then one knows something is amiss. Since INS isn't jammable, you know the GPS is the thing that is messed up. Especially if the INS system has redundant INS sensors.
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Correct as ever, FA, but ... I don't see that link on the mobile web view... either I'm being blind again ;-) or it needs adding to m.theregister.co.uk stories... for the benefit of those using mobile browsers like on phones, ipads etc
I hardly ever use a desktop browser to read ElReg these days, (though used to access on nothing else), which is one of the reasons most of my posts don't have any subject icons (I never post as AC, but that's probably the only time a mobile browser user would get an icon) - maybe the OP is unaware of the "Send Corrections" link, or equally just doesn't see it on their screen...
International shipping regulations require that ships over a certain tonnage are required to have a full complement of navigational tools (Water-proofed charts, Sextant, compass, star charts,etc) and the captain, first officer and second officer must be trained in their use.
Beside, any captain worth their salt can identify that they are off-course from just the stars or landmarks.
Canadian Merchant Marine students are still required to learn how to navigate using plotted charts and sextants. Computers/components can fail and GPS can be flawed/manipulated. With no computer support stores at sea....one must always be able to rely on the tried and true method IMO.
Total reliance on GPS navigation/computers has always an issue to keep in mind. Any crew worth thier salt would not rely 100% on GPS for navigation. Canadian Merchant Marine students are still required to learn how to navigate using plotted charts and sextants. Computers/components can fail and GPS can be flawed/manipulated. With no computer support stores at sea....one must always be able to rely on the tried and true method IMO.
Ask Michael Scott about the flaws in GPS devices. :-)
This is actually an issue for all crews, I'd say.
Crews routinely rely on their instruments to provide them with correct data. They tend to believe what their instruments tell them - it's human nature. Only a paranoid would go out and check if the GPS is right all the time.
Pirate icon because... well, it's obvious, really.
You're correct that no-one on a boat relies on GPS alone - when they first came out I was once unable to get a fix for several days, and everyone knows they're only giving you a position +/- a few metres.
But this one is different, because the GPS will be giving you a strong signal which looks valid. It's not a failure mode for GPS anyone has ever seen and it's certainly not one people look for. In fact if you used it to modify the course by 5 degrees, most people would verify this against their compass and assume the compass was off, rather than the GPS. Likewise comparing against a log for speed (which are notoriously innaccurate, at least on yachts, as the impellers tend to foul).
As for falling back to a sextant, great idea, but it's a pain to use, time consuming and you need a clear sky. You're not going to shoot a sight unless your GPS has no fix, or you need the practice.
Put this on a boat doing an atlantic crossing, have it alter the course by 1 degree or 1 knot, and you could wind up hundreds of miles out without even noticing. With a bit more effort you could put a boat onto an isolated submerged reef without any difficulty at all.
Maybe the residents of Cornwall should get some of these and pull ships onto the rocks for the cargo like their grandparents did with lights!
If you pootering about in the med, there's not much that can go seriously wrong - "Oh look, there's Africa, this aint right". At most you're going to be slightly off course.
However, if you're sailing from Med to Caribbean, not an awful lot of scenery. One degree here or there, and you're in Boston or Rio.
You're working from the MS mindset. You need to be working from the black hat mindset.
I've got you slightly off course. Maybe I've put you on a reef. Maybe it's only a couple hundred nautical miles off. Maybe I've put you in the middle of my raiding parties. Maybe that's all I need to take you down before your forces can adjust to the fact that you sent them to the wrong location for the rescue call.
What about the captain of the boat himself being organised in a spot of smuggling?
He could be controlling the spoofing devices to send the ship to another pre-arranged destination and safely drop stuff off and, all the while, the ship's data loggers will have him elsewhere exactly where he should have been.
Perhaps I may have just written that Hollywood script...
Indeed, although everyone has done their DR/EP/Astro stuff in the classroom there probably aren't many who could do it live and even then they'd only try if the GPS fails completely.
But as a modern day Cornish wrecker (=large-scale beachcomber, really) I feel obliged to point out that the whole leading ships onto rocks thing is highly debatable; sure they made use of stuff that washed up, but there are more real stories of heroic rescue than myths about deliberate wrecking. Plus if it ever happened you're talking a lot older than our grandparents generation - I caught the 'wrecking' bug from my Granddad, but he was the local Police Sargeant!
I'll take a wild guess and say not too many.
Yes it sounds like the plot of a Bond film (and actually was) but that does not mean that more discrete use would not be possible.
The 21st century equivalent of "wreckers" shutting down light houses in order to lure ships onto hazards and salvage the cargoes (and/or any valuables from anyone who didn't make, and sometimes anyone who did)?
Unless the team had the luxury of a cruise from Texas, I wonder what airport security / TSA would make of a box of GPS spoofing kit. Though in practice, my experience suggests that the more complicated something looks, the less attention it gets !
Would I be right in assuming the equipment has to spoof multiple GPS satellites ?
Who says that the TSA would know what they are looking at ? Either checked it or they could just lie. If you never seen the equipment before why would just assume it was GPS jamming kit other than some electronics. He could just say I'm with the University of Texas and this is research equipment.
That would be the only proper way to spoof GPS. If you only spoof one satellite, some software will ignore the wildly erroneous reading and most software will gripe about not "seeing" the rest of the constellation.
The only thing these student did was prove the technology of GPS and the inverse square law. Who'd have thought that a few watts right next to an antenna could overpower a 26 watts 21000km away?
Damn, but people go off over the dumbest shit.
Unfortunately, as I've found out in the IT security field, seeing is often believing.
Demonstrating a dead simple attack has managers ooh-ing and aah-ing while writing up the same thing in a report gets questions like "yes, my tech guys tell me this can happen but aren't you all bullshitting?".
IIRC.... NAVWASS on UK Jaguars and others used a system of the following.....
Program into the nav comp your known position using Eastings and Northings.
Aircraft gyros and pitot tubes giving references to turns, speeds etc will update the nav comp in real time using a nice mix of both analogue and digital electronic gubbins.
No GPS required and certainly no GPS was used in my time in avionics.
Navigational error? Erm, none that I can ever remember.
Wasn't the purpose of WAAS to prevent GPS spoofing so that the FAA could use it to replace nav beacons without having to give every aircraft a military recv?
Anybody know how WAAS (and presumably EGNOS) prevent spoofing? Does it look for different doppler shifts from the stationary GSO satelites ?
Right. Just as no lorry driver relies solely on GPS, so that they might drive into an obviously impassable ford.
And no sea captain would deviate from their planned course just to show off to their friends on a nearby island, without checking if there are any sand banks nearby.
Right, I think you are missing the word sensible there, when talking about lorry drivers. I live in a village with narrow roads and sharp turns, and still they try to come through.
Also delivery companies tend to use routing software that takes no account of the roads leading to a delivery, there's a road, we can send a 7.5 ton truck down it, and the drivers blindly follow the instructions, luckily our local authority is sensible and uses small service vehicles. I always tell them not to.
BTW GPS spoofing has been going on for years, in fact in the UK the MOD posts warnings in areas where they re doing it, so that the humble motorist won't be surprised to find their sat navs showing them the wrong location.
Narrow roads and sharp turns? We had an Eastern European artic driver try to drive down a flight of steps. I don't know what happened after that.
And then there was the one who ignored the 17t limit trying to reach another village, and came to the T junction with trees on all the corners and no rear visibility. I believe he had to be hauled out backwards with a tractor.
GPS is not actually the main problem, inability to read road signs certainly is.
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it allows for location based on WiFi hotspots, without actually connecting to them.
Now then, all we need is to cover the ocean with buoys with WiFi hotspots on them and presto, ships with a Android OS know where they are and everyone has WiFi coverage..
win-win, you can't go wrong with this one :P
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"Before the panic starts, it should be pointed out that the Texans are spoofing civilian GPS systems."
Speaking as a WAFI (Lewis will know...) that worries me MORE.
Most of the world's freight moves about, often in quite confined waters (Dover Strait anyone), with minimal human supervision - supertankers typically have a crew of ~20, which means about 6 on watch at any one time (3-watch system), so that's 6 dozy guys following the GPS tracking up the english channel all night.
A navigational error of 1 degree at the start of the channel will subtend an error of 6 miles at the other end, 350 miles away. So if I drift a ship by only that 1 degree as it passes Scilly, I can easily make it hit the coast at Calais.
Of course you hope that someone might notice this and correct it but even so...
"Before the panic starts, it should be pointed out that the Texans are spoofing civilian GPS systems. Cracking encrypted military signals has never been demonstrated, although jamming them is possible, and redirecting cruise missiles in flight will remain in the fictional realm for the time being."
So you jam the military band while spoofing the civilian band, so military kit will only have the spoofed civilian signal (plus internal gyroscopic, inertial, and perhaps image sensors) to go by. At the very least this would make the military kit far less precise, as it turns off GPS completely to avoid the risk of being spoofed; at worst it will use the spoofed civilian signal.
As a Master Mariner (Unlimited) sailing on superyachts and previously on large cruise vessels I understand the theory behind corrupting a GPS signal, but fail to see how other processes on the bridge couldn't have identified the deviation.
Understand that if the vessels autopilot is directly slaved to the 'trackline' on the GPS and is blindly following the COG, there will be a pre-set limit for when the GPS COG and Gyro Headings diverge, and this occurs on all of the major bridge ECDIS/Navigation systems I've used.
I have been in vessels when GPS jamming has occurred or interference has occurred and the GPS does go into error at these times, which will again cause alerts on the GPS/Navigational system.
So perhaps if a minor alteration was made towards a submerged reef with no further above waterline features identifiable by radar were usable within 12 miles then you could lead a vessel into danger, however I think it would take some effort.
Once a vessel is within 6 or so miles of land and engaged in coastal navigation, the GPS becomes largely redundant for a big vessel.
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