Researchers remotely hijack $80 million yacht by spoofing GPS signals


A custom GPS device designed by a research team at the University of Texas has proven how easy it is to remotely hijack a $80 million superyacht, “White Rose of Drachs”. The research team led by Todd Humphreys has used “the world’s first openly acknowledged GPS spoofing device” to fake GPS signals and gain control of the GPS receivers, thus allowing them to send the yacht wherever the hell they desire.

Spoofing is a technique used to fake GPS signals and thereby gain control of a vessel’s GSP receivers. The purpose of this experiment was to determine how difficult it is for sensors in the command room of a yacht to detect what is being dubbed a “spoofing attack at sea”. As it turns out, it isn’t very hard at all.

When attempting to spoof the ship’s GPS signal, the ship did not recognise the spoofed signals as false and two students who were on board to monitor the ship did not receive any warning alarms. As a result, the ship’s auto pilot shifted the yacht to few hundred meters off the intended course.

Humphreys said:

“With 90 percent of the world’s freight moving across the seas and a great deal of the world’s human transportation going across the skies, we have to gain a better understanding of the broader implications of GPS spoofing, I didn’t know, until we performed this experiment, just how possible it is to spoof a marine vessel and how difficult it is to detect this attack.”

I’m just surprised it took someone this long to attempt something like this. Below is a video you can check out regarding this whole ordeal.

[via Cnet Australia, image via Help Born Rich]

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