Friday, August 2, 2013

False GPS signals allow Texas University Students to take control of Ship

High-Tech Pirates: Researchers Hack A Yacht Via GPS
A group of University of Texas students has demonstrated how easy such electronic "spoofing" is by taking control of an $80m yacht with permission, of course.





FALSE beacons on treacherous headlands. Hijacked lighthouses. Now, a new peril faces those who go to sea faked GPS signals from "wreckers" taking control of their vessels. A group of University of Texas students has demonstrated how easy such electronic "spoofing" is by taking control of an $80m yacht with permission, of course. Professor Todd Humpreys from the department of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics led the team which created a false GPS signal generator which was able to override the ships navigation computers as it travelled from Monaco to Rhodes in the Mediterranean. The ship - the White Rose of Drachs , a 65m luxury yacht owned by British property magnate Michael Evans - set off an alarm, telling the crew that it had wandered off course. The "correct" course was plotted by the computers for the crew, who saw no reason not to accept the instruction. The ship's automated systems were completely unaware of what was going on. Crew aboard the ship reported there was not a single signal or alarm indicating the new course plot was incorrect. Such spoofing is reminiscent of a long history of "wrecking" where false lighthouses and beacons were established on remote and dangerous stretches of coast. Ships would be lured to their fate on the rocks, where piratical salvage crews sought to recover their valuable cargoes. "I didn't know, until we performed this experiment, just how possible it is to spoof a marine vessel and how difficult it is to detect this attack." Professor Humphreys said. "With 90 per cent of the world's freight moving across the seas and a great deal of the world's human transportation going across the skies, we have to gain a better understanding of the broader implications of GPS spoofing."