Editor’s Note:  Kudos to Matt Leonard for beginning this article by identifying purposeful GPS disruption as a cyber-attack. Despite the disruption of communication pathways, impact on end-use devices, and the potential for inserting false information into data bases and applications, some in the cyber community prefer to think of GPS disruption as someone else’s problem. 

June’s very dramatic spoofing incident has resulted in many recent articles focusing on the problem as it relates to maritime. It is, of course, a much larger threat for critical national infrastructure, especially telecom, IT and other networks.

Government Computer News

A back-to-basics stand-in for GPS navigation – Government Computer News

It is not realistic to think every cyberattack will be prevented, experts say, so implementing redundant systems is critical to ensuring continuity of operations.

GPS signals, which provide position, navigation and timing services, are susceptible to both deliberate jamming and solar disruptions.  This could be especially dangerous for ships, which tend to rely solely on GPS for navigation.

In 2013, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin illustrated the potential risks of relying on GPS for navigation when it used GPS spoofing to take control of a 65-meter, $80 million super yacht in the Ionian Sea.

Last year, South Korea said the GPS systems on its fishing vessels were hacked by North Korea, and ships in the Black Sea experienced disruptions in their systems this June, according to Reuters. GPS jamming and spoofing have become so prevalent and potentially disruptive to public safety that the Department of Homeland Security has been conducting First Responder Electronic Jamming Exercises for the last two years.

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