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Home » Hacking News » Using Fake GPS Signals to Hijack $80m Yacht

Using Fake GPS Signals to Hijack $80m Yacht

by Nikola Strahija on July 29th, 2013 Students from University of Texas at Austin were successful in spoofing GPS signals and steering $80m worth yacht off course. The experiment took place 30 miles off the coast of Italy while the yacht was sailing in international waters.

Led by assistant professor Todd Humphreys the team's goal was to measure the difficulty of carrying out such an attack on civilian GPS receivers and to
determine how easily the GPS hardware could pick up the threat.

Graduate students Jahshan Bhatti and Ken Pesyna broadcasted faint, spoofed, signals from the boat's upper deck towards the two GPS antennas. At first the navigation
system didn't budge, but after they boosted the signal strenght they completely took over yacht's navigation system.
Location discrepancy was reported by the navigation system and the crew initiated a course correction while, in reality, they were on the right course.
Shortly after, the yacht was hundreds of meters away from the original, intended route plotted in the ship's autopilot.

If the GPS navigation system on a $80 million yacht can be spoofed by a group of students, what would happen with airplanes, their autopilots and ADS-B systems being
targeted by someone with malicious intent?

Animation of the GPS spoofing attack

Faking GPS signals isn't anything new if you're the U.S. Military and doing a training exercise, - just drive near a U.S. base in Europe during that time. Your GPS position will be off and jumping around.

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