The US Maritime Administration registered an apparently soothing incident report. The commander of a ship off the Russian port of Novorossiysk had found his GPS put him in the improper spot further than 32 kilometers inward, at Gelendzhik Airport.
After reviewing the exploration computer was working properly, the captain reached other nearby ships. Their AIS traces flags from the automatic classification system used to track vessels located them all at the same airport. At least 20 ships were affected.
Until now, the greatest worry for GPS has been it can be blocked by hiding the GPS satellite signal with noise. While this can cause anarchy, it is also obvious to detect. GPS radios sound an alarm when they lose the signal due to jamming. Spoofing is more secret: a false signal from an earth station simply involves a satellite receiver. “Jamming just makes 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 advising of the coming danger of GPS spoofing for many years. In 2013, he told how a superyacht with state-of-the-art travel could be lured off-course by GPS spoofing. “The receiver’s role in the Black Sea event was much like throughout the controlled attacks my team conducted,” says Humphreys.
Humphreys thinks this is Russia exploring with a new form of electronic warfare. Over the prior year, GPS spoofing has been creating chaos for the customers on phone apps in central Moscow to trip. The scale of the dilemma did not become clear until people began seeking to play Pokemon Go. The fake signal, which appears to center on the Kremlin, relocates anyone nearby to Vnukovo Airport, 32 km away. This is apparently for defensive reasons; many NATO guided bombs, missiles and drones rely on GPS navigation, and successful spoofing would make it difficult for them to hit their targets.
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