By: Kerry Tomlinson
Some say the rise in “location-spoofing” could lead to more GPS attacks on cell towers, drones and more.
It’s not enough to play the game. Some fans of Pokemon Go are cheating their way to success.
Though some players report trying ceiling fans, record players or drones to simulate walking, the most popular cheat talked about online appears to be location-spoofing—fooling the app into thinking you’re in a busy city with many Golbats and Pinsirs ready to catch, when you’re actually on your couch at home.
“I’ve moved all over the globe to most popular cities and honestly NYC is F’in STACKED with everything… no need to move elsewhere because there ARE rare pokemon in NYC,” says one location faker. “Just stay in NYC guys… seriously… central park is a gold mine.”
Other players may cry fair or foul, but there is a much bigger concern emerging among some in the technology security world—will this wave of geo-cheating breed a new group of GPS spoofers ready to try out their skills on criminal ventures or crucial infrastructure?
“The longer term consequences for the rest of us could be much more serious,” said Dana Goward, president of the Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation in Washington, D.C. in a post. “Location deception is a huge and growing cyber problem (no one knows exactly how big since deceivers work hard to remain undetected). This will make it worse.”
In Pokemon Go, the more you move, the more opportunities you get to catch the pocket monsters. Some players say they want to try location-faking because they are disabled
Others say there are fewer Pokemon in rural areas, so they “teleport” to bigger cities to chase them down.
“…Some of us live in the middle of nowhere, while people in their flats in NYC can just watch Netflix and farm poke balls,” writes one geo-bluffer. “I know this because Pokemon Go now thinks I live in one of those flats.”
And some cite “desperation” as the reason for their cheating.
“Dude, I havent found a single pokestop or gym, I drove 400 km a few days ago, there wasnt a single one,” said a player online. “Now im running out of pokeballs, and I’m not looking to pay because im mainly broke as hell. Call it sad or pathetic or whatever, but in reality its only desperation that drives people to do this.”
But the basic message relayed online—to the disgust of more virtuous players— is, “I will do whatever I can to catch more monsters, even if it breaks the rules.” The cheaters say that Pokemon Go bans players who spoof their GPS, but call them “soft bans” that usually only last a few hours.
“The whole concept of this game is to get people walk around and catch Pokemon. Someone sitting at home and playing all day traveling the world and claiming gyms gives that person a huge advantage and cheating, regardless of whether or not you can physically play,” wrote one player in response.
A step further?
If you’re willing to use location-spoofing to cheat at Pokemon Go, would you do the same at work, or worse, to the machines that move your world?
“There will be some number of people that will eventually use that capability for their own purposes, most of which are nefarious,” Goward told Archer News.
Drug traffickers have been spoofing government drones at the U.S.’s southern border, reported Defense One. Game location-spoofers turned curious criminals might try something similar, said Goward.
“Since a private citizen now can, for $300, build and operate their own GPS spoofing device, I think they could do so and start diverting drones of all kinds. Recreational drones, ones that start delivering Amazon packages,” he said. “Any number of drone vehicles or aircraft and diverting them for their own purposes.”
“You could do a number of things to damage automated systems that rely on GPS,” he added.
Spoofing at work
Taxi drivers in Australia were caught spoofing their locations so they didn’t have to wait in line for the next fare at the airport and could instead roam around picking up passengers, he said. That would be unfair for the cab drivers who did wait their turn as required. Some Uber drivers did the same at the San Francisco airport, reported KPIX.