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Spoofing GPS for fun and profit?


cooper
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A researcher at the University of Texas is managing to get drones to navigated in the direction he wants them to by providing them with a spoofed GPS signal. Back in 2013 he did something similar to a big yacht as can be read in this article (with video).

Pretty nifty stuff and I didn't find anything here on the forums discussing it yet.

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I wonder if this effects things like the GPS on our phones and car navigation equipment, since this could lead to all kinds of interference if people can gain access to it.

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I wonder if this effects things like the GPS on our phones and car navigation equipment, since this could lead to all kinds of interference if people can gain access to it.

I would think it would. Even if they're using a highly directional antenna, it's still going to fuzz someone in that general direction a little. May throw off their gps, or just make it quit working, no lock or whatnot.

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In the case of the boat they can't suddenly change the GPS coordinates such that the boat, as far as GPS is concerned, instantly moved to Austria. That would probably cause the autopilot to scream bloody hell. The 3 degrees off is probably within the safety margin of the boat which the navigation computer is designed to address without any fuss.

In the case of the drone, I don't think this limitation exists and the drone is likely to just consider its waypoint way, WAY out of range. In this situation you should simply not use that option for your drone.

For peoples' GPS, I can imagine your car going apeshit for a second and then suddenly show you driving in, say, the middle of the ocean. You'd be puzzled for a bit but to go somewhere other than where you wanted to go, there would have to be a few more factors at play and a certain amount of overlap in routes for 2 very different cities.

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In the case of the boat they can't suddenly change the GPS coordinates such that the boat, as far as GPS is concerned, instantly moved to Austria. That would probably cause the autopilot to scream bloody hell. The 3 degrees off is probably within the safety margin of the boat which the navigation computer is designed to address without any fuss.

In the case of the drone, I don't think this limitation exists and the drone is likely to just consider its waypoint way, WAY out of range. In this situation you should simply not use that option for your drone.

For peoples' GPS, I can imagine your car going apeshit for a second and then suddenly show you driving in, say, the middle of the ocean. You'd be puzzled for a bit but to go somewhere other than where you wanted to go, there would have to be a few more factors at play and a certain amount of overlap in routes for 2 very different cities.

With a boat they could just skew the position slowly over time. With no real landmarks it would (should) work to throw it way off course over time, like overnight. You could also throw off agricultural gps autopilots doing the same thing. They're not following a road, just a grid on the field. They have a driver backup though, mostly to do slight (inch here and there) corrections.

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  • 2 weeks later...

People have been spoofing GPS for years, its a fine way to get yourself arrested in the UK, lol

hmmm. Well won't be doing that without some research into relevant laws first. Thanks for the heads up. Previous post was really just meant as an insightful joke.

Edited by overwraith
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Fascinating read. Though from their conclussion [sic]:

As a result of this research, we believe that a GPS spoof is not formidable because it can be detected very easily and the authentic signal can be recovered in some cases. However, if nothing is done, the GPS receiver is vulnerable to spoof attack.


So, not so much 'not too hard to prevent' but rather 'not too hard to detect, which is something rather different.

Thanks for finding that paper though. I wasn't aware people were already researching this way back in 2004(!).

Note: That year wasn't in the document, but Wikipedia says that's the publishing date, which will do for me.

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As far as radio controlled quads go once it flies out of range of the transmitter the GPS will override its path and a new flight path will be taken back to the home location (speaking in terms of the NAZA-M V2 flight controller and the compass/GPS system that comes with it). Of course once the auto return feature has kicked in there is nothing to prevent a second spoofing attack from taking it right back off course again unless if the flight controller would possibly recognize the new coordinates are not the same as the home location. I'm not sure where it stores the coordinates of the home location and if those would be overwritten by a spoofing attack.

Edited by sud0nick
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