THE NEXT STEP IN CYBER WAR: GPS SPOOFINGDecember 27, 2017
Remember those U.S. warships that were rammed by other ships this past year? The USS Fitzgerald and the USS John McCain incidents? For that matter, remember the US cruise missile strike on Syria, and that over half of the missiles missed their targets? Well, there may be yet another explanation for the incidents: GPS spoofing, the latest step in cyber warfare capability, if this article shared by Ms. P is any indicator:
What is intriguing here to note is that this attack - and it can only be called an attack - occurred within the same rough time frame as the McCain and Fitzgerald incidents:
eports of satellite navigation problems in the Black Sea suggest that Russia may be testing a new system for spoofing GPS, New Scientist has learned. This could be the first hint of a new form of electronic warfare available to everyone from rogue nation states to petty criminals.
On 22 June, the US Maritime Administration filed a seemingly bland incident report. The master of a ship off the Russian port of Novorossiysk had discovered his GPS put him in the wrong spot – more than 32 kilometres inland, at Gelendzhik Airport.
After checking the navigation equipment was working properly, the captain contacted other nearby ships. Their AIS traces – signals from the automatic identification system used to track vessels – placed them all at the same airport. At least 20 ships were affected.
While the incident is not yet confirmed, experts think this is the first documented use of GPS misdirection – a spoofing attack that has long been warned of but never been seen in the wild.
Until now, the biggest worry for GPS has been it can be jammed by masking the GPS satellite signal with noise. While this can cause chaos, it is also easy to detect. GPS receivers sound an alarm when they lose the signal due to jamming. Spoofing is more insidious: a false signal from a ground station simply confuses a satellite receiver. “Jamming just causes the receiver to die, spoofing causes the receiver to lie,” says consultant David Last, former president of the UK’s Royal Institute of Navigation.
Todd Humphreys, of the University of Texas at Austin, has been warning of the coming danger of GPS spoofing for many years. In 2013, he showed how a superyacht with state-of-the-art navigation could be lured off-course by GPS spoofing. “The receiver’s behaviour in the Black Sea incident was much like during the controlled attacks my team conducted,” says Humphreys.
And of course, as one might expect, this too is being blamed on Russia:
Humphreys thinks this is Russia experimenting with a new form of electronic warfare. Over the past year, GPS spoofing has been causing chaos for the receivers on phone apps in central Moscow to misbehave. The scale of the problem did not become apparent until people began trying to play Pokemon Go. The fake signal, which seems to centre on the Kremlin, relocates anyone nearby to Vnukovo Airport, 32 km away. This is probably for defensive reasons; many NATO guided bombs, missiles and drones rely on GPS navigation, and successful spoofing would make it impossible for them to hit their targets.
However, the article itself suggests that the technology is not all that difficult:
But now the geolocation interference is being used far away from the Kremlin. Some worry that this means that spoofing is getting easier. GPS spoofing previously required considerable technical expertise. Humphreys had to build his first spoofer from scratch in 2008, but notes that it can now be done with commercial hardware and software downloaded from the Internet.
Nor does it require much power. Satellite signals are very weak – about 20 watts from 20,000 miles away – so a one-watt transmitter on a hilltop, plane or drone is enough to spoof everything out to the horizon.
All this brings me to today's high octane speculation. Firstly, during the Fitzgerald and McCain incidents, the US Navy made something of a fuss over the deteriorating state of training, and crews used to navigating almost exclusively by GPS might account for at least some of the incidents, and might account for why the Navy is reemphasizing the need for good old fashioned celestial navigation skills. While I am not abandoning my theory of other types of cyber warfare and perhaps even mind control technologies being behind those incidents, there is nothing to rule out GPS spoofing either. Perhaps those incidents were tests of combined technologies being used all at once.
But there is a second high octane speculative possibility to be mentioned here. I have no doubt that Russia, and for that matter, every other great power, are probably involved in GPS spoofing research and testing. That means that one cannot be too quick to jump to the conclusion that Russia is responsible for these incidents. Indeed, such incidents might be false flags used to generate more West-Russia tensions by those in the West needing to perpetuate the central bank warfare-welfare model. But you'll also note that the scientists in question who have been testing GPS spoofing were able to to do using relatively "off-the-shelf" technologies, and this implies that almost anyone with the technical savvy to assemble the software and equipment might be involved. As with the use of mind control technologies, one cannot rule out non-state and extra-territorial actors...
See you on the flip side...