This past March Bloomberg offered a compelling look inside the world of election hacking in which campaigns and their supporters hack into their opponents and steal or destroy data, saturate the online space with fake messaging and otherwise attempt to skew the election in their favor. Given the subsequent unveiling of the successful hack of the DNC here in the United States and the previous hacks of both campaigns in 2008, the article appears all the more prescient.
Indeed, this past April the head of the US Cyber Command testified before Congress that there was growing concern that hackers of the future will not simply steal data, but will instead penetrate computing systems and subtly change critical data in-place in such a way that the victim can no longer trust any of its data and doesn’t know what’s real or what has been changed.
NBC today published a fascinating look at how cyberwarfare has expanded beyond the purely digital realm to mission critical physical systems like GPS. Tracking systems based on GPS and using cellular backhauls have become commonplace in tracking valuable cargo, corporate vehicles and in police surveillance. However, the NBC article notes that GPS jammers have now become so commonplace that they can be purchased for a few tens of dollars online and plugged into a vehicle cigarette lighter jack, with criminals now routinely deploying them on the off chance that their stolen cargo might be carrying a GPS tracker. Even enterprising employees are beginning to deploy them in an attempt to avoid their corporate office being able to track their vehicle.
Moreover, GPS spoofing like that of James Bond’s movie Tomorrow Never Dies, in which nearby GPS receivers are tricked into thinking they are at a different location is also becoming increasingly accessible. In fact, almost identically to the plot line of that movie, a set of academic researchers managed to send a 213-foot yacht several hundred yards off course without any of the onboard navigation systems being the slightest bit aware of the treachery.