Students at the University of Texas Cockrell School’s Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics participated in a controlled experiment where they were able to spoof GPS data that is sent to a ship. The experiment was led by professor Todd Humphreys.
The students were able to subtly coerce a 213-foot yacht off its course using a custom-made GPS device. The point of the experiment was to measure the difficulty of carrying out a spoofing attack at sea and to determine how easily that the sensors in the ship’s command room could identify the threat.
The experiment was done with permission of the yacht’s owners. When the students broadcasted counterfeit GPS signals, it did not trigger any alarms with the ship’s navigation system. This could be a major issue because 90% of the world’s freight moves by seas, according to Chron.com.