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Researchers Find Crippling Flaws In Global GPS 179

mask.of.sanity writes "Researchers have developed attacks capable of crippling Global Positioning System infrastructure critical to the navigation of a host of military and civilian technologies including planes, ships and unamed drones. The novel remote attacks can be made against consumer and professional-grade receivers using $2500 worth of custom-built equipment. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Coherent Navigation detailed the attacks in a paper. (pdf)"
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Researchers Find Crippling Flaws In Global GPS

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  • Misleading Summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by KeithIrwin ( 243301 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @10:05PM (#42238391)

    The paper isn't really about attacking GPS infrastructure. It's about attacking GPS receivers. Some of these receivers may be part of other sorts of infrastructure. I was at CCS when the paper was presented. It's all about sending fake GPS satellite signals to receivers to exploit bugs in the software in the receivers. The work is interesting and includes attacks which can desynchronize the clocks on some devices and there was one device you could essentially brick by telling it at the satellite was at radius 0 (center of the earth) resulting in a divide by 0 overflow. I liked the paper and thought it was neat, and it could do serious damage to particular systems which rely on GPS if they have the right type of flaws in their software to be exploited by this attack, but it was not an attack against the GPS satellites or anything like that.

  • by KeithIrwin ( 243301 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @10:09PM (#42238421)

    Err, I just meant divide by 0 error, not overflow. The fun bit of that attack is that the reason it effectively bricks it is that the divide by zero error crashes it and it reboots, but it logs its data into flash, so as soon as it finishes rebooting, it starts reprocessing the stored data, thus it reads the 0 again and crashes and it just gets stuck in a loop like that forever. It's a fairly fun and clever paper.

  • Re:What a nonsense (Score:5, Informative)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @10:13PM (#42238443) Homepage Journal

    Well okay but I work in air traffic control and there is a high level of relience on positonal information from GPS.

  • Re:What a nonsense (Score:5, Informative)

    by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @10:54PM (#42238707)

    Commercial airliners are still equipped with other navigation systems, but most of them are beacon systems that are only useful when you're close to an airport. These systems are still used for landing. For long distance navigation, the non-GPS systems are almost all a distant memory. It's *possible* to navigate a plane with a compass and a clock, and if you're flying low enough (and in an area with enough airports) it's possible to navigate by switching beacons, but I wouldn't want to hazard that in a plane the size of most commercial airliners. It's the kind of thing you do (and are trained to do, or at least were when I was taking lessons) in a Cessna, not a 767.

    The real concern is that the occupants of the plane have no way of knowing that their GPS information is bad in the first place. You can have a thousand backups available to you, but if you don't know that your primary system is being fed bad information, are you going to check/trust the backup that's based on technology developed a century ago (seriously... clock/compass is how Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were navigating)? And assuming that the GPS actually *crashed* (in the DoS way described in TFA), you'd still have Air Traffic Control to tell you where you were... they don't use GPS, they use radar.

  • Demoed at TEDxAustin (Score:2, Informative)

    by HizookRobotics ( 1722346 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @11:50PM (#42239003) Homepage
    Novel attack... demoed at TEDxAustin back in February and posted online for everyone to see ;-) []
  • by KeithIrwin ( 243301 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @05:09AM (#42240273)

    Well, thanks for the kind words anyway. Honestly, I thought that modding up my second comment (which was mostly just meant as an error correction) was excessive. If I'd known it would've been modded up, I might've not made it as I don't want to be a karma whore. But, oh well, I guess I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin