Insight: Merchant shipping lacks safety net as GPS disruptions intensify

In the second part of this double feature, Katherine Dunn investigates an emerging security risk for the shipping industry, as maritime authorities report a rising number of GPS failures Interrupting GPS— even the GPS of a large vessel — requires just three simple steps. “Disrupting GPS signals into these vessels is as easy as buying a GPS jammer off the Internet, hooking this to an amplifier and an antenna, and pointing the antenna at the intended target vessel,” says Todd Humphreys, who directs the Radionavigation Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin. The system behind GPS is straightforward. There are at least 24 active GPS satellites circling the earth, many equipped with atomic clocks. At any point, a receiver should be within sight of four of them. A receptor then determines from those signals where it is located, and at what time. Part 1: Cyber threats to shipping grow in East Mediterranean The system is still maintained by the US Air Force. While regional alternatives exist, including both Chinese and Russian systems, GPS has come to be used globally by every conceivable industry for nearly every conceivable purpose. The problem is that those signals are surprisingly weak: anything from averse… continue reading

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