FBI monitors GPS spoofer code

Summary:Use of code for a software-defined GPS spoofer is being monitored by the FBI, according to one of the academics that developed the technology.The GPS spoofer technology can be used by people to fool a device about its location.

Use of code for a software-defined GPS spoofer is being monitored by the FBI, according to one of the academics that developed the technology. The GPS spoofer technology can be used by people to fool a device about its location. For example, a GPS signal can be received, and a spoofed signal broadcast to a navigational device to make the device 'think' it is in a different location. This becomes problematic if the device is being used in a mission-critical way, such as in an aircraft.

"The software receiver [code] is by far the easiest code that could be posted to the web," University of Texas assistant aerospace engineering professor Todd Humphreys told ZDNet UK on Wednesday. "The FBI keeps tabs on our code."

The academic said he liases with law enforcement and US government agencies over GPS research.

Humphreys and his team of researchers developed the technology with laptops and cables, but eventually managed to streamline the GPS spoofer into a single box. All of the receiver and spoofer code runs on a single Texas Instruments digital signal processor chip that cost around $100 (£65).

"We were able to broadcast a GPS signal consistent with a fictional position and timing," said Humphreys.

One possible application of a spoofing attack would be to spoof energy consumption on smart grids.

"[The attack] can cause generators to go offline to destabilise a country's power grid," said Humphreys. "It's one of the most effective ways to bring a country to its knees."

Topics: Security

About

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com, writing about all manner of security and open-source issues.Tom had various jobs after leaving university, including working for a company that hired out computers as props for films and television, and a role turning the entire back catalogue of a publisher into e-books.Tom eventually found tha... Full Bio

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