New high-tech digital weapon? Ships reportedly fooled by GPS spoofing

Updated 2017-08-14 09:30:38 CGTN

What should we do if a GPS starts "lying"?

According to an incident report filed by the U.S. Maritime Administration on June 22, a ship sailing off the Russian port of Novorossiysk seems to have been tricked by its GPS, which directed the ship towards a wrong spot.

Having discovered the bizarre mistake, the captain checked his navigation apparatus but found it was indeed working properly. Later, at least 20 ships nearby were affected by the same problem: the automatic identification system (AIS) of those ships was placing them at the same wrong spot.

The AIS system is usually used to identify and locate vessels trace with the help of GPS navigation.

The incident was never confirmed, but some experts say this is the first time spoofing technology is documented, according to science magazine "New Scientist", with fingers pointed at Russia.

GPS spoofing

In fact, many countries have long warned of a GPS spoofing attack.

At present, the majority of global military attacks are guided by GPS navigation technology. But a successful GPS spoofing has the ability to make military attacks "lose their way."

In the past, scientists were mainly concerned about how to prevent GPS satellites' signals from being masked on purpose. However, GPS spoofing is more difficult to distinguish compared with traditional GPS interference. The chaos the latter causes makes it easy to detect.

In order to "fool" a GPS, false signals are sent from a ground station to confuse satellites' correct signals, instead of jamming them.

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