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Researchers Detailed Crippling Flaws In GPS And Dependent Systems

Seems the Global Positioning System (GPS) is not as secure as previously thought. Until now, it was “shown that GPS is vulnerable mainly to jamming and spoofing.” Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Coherent Navigation have developed a hardware platform for GPS attacks and have demonstrated three novel attack techniques that can cripple this critical infrastructure.


The attacks designed by the researchers are GPS data level attacks, GPRS receiver level attacks, and GPS dependent system attacks. These attack techniques take advantage of higher level GPS software stack and effects caused by errors on the system.

A new hardware system was also designed to test the attack techniques. The hardware was named GPS phase-coherent signal synthesizer (PCSS), and could act “like a hybrid receiver and satellite in a box.” The PCSS required about $2500 to build.

With the help of the hardware and the novel attacks techniques could bring down 30 percent of the global GPS Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS), and 20 percent of the NTRP networks. That means, a large portion of GPS-dependent systems, such as Air Traffic positioning or telecommunication infrastructure, could be crippled with such attacks.

The researchers published the results in ACM Computer and Communications Security Conference 2012, and proposed software defense techniques for a secure GPS infrastructure.

Thanks to: SCMagazine

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