Hackers could play havok with your GPS devices » Digital Compass
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Hackers could play havok with your GPS devices


A simple device that can spoof a GPS satellite's positioning signal could soon be responsible for running your car off the road and into a trap laid by tech-savvy thieves. According to Cornell University professor Paul Kinter who was trying to build a customized receiver to analyze the effects of solar flares on GPS satellites, the process of manipulation is alarmingly easy. Those who want to send a spoof GPS signal would have to generate one while close to the intended recipient—approximately 50m—and also ensure that the signal is the strongest one.

Since GPS devices always process the strongest signal, the strong spoofed one would take over as the main reference point within seconds. This is how attackers can manipulate GPS position information on a victim’s device.


While Kinter's device is almost the size of a briefcase, he believes it can soon be reduced to the size of a cigarette pack. Still, the proximity requirement means it would be difficult to fool a GPS road navigation device installed in a car without mounting the transmitter somewhere in it too. Rather than targeting moving vehicles, the most immediate application could be to trick law enforcement agencies which use GPS to track people with restraining orders and those under house arrest.

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