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Global Positioning System (GPS) Spoofing

Published: 12th Oct, 2023

Context:

A committee has been established by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to keep an eye on GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) spoofing in Indian airspace.

What is GPS spoofing?

  • An attempt to alter the initial location of a GPS-enabled device is known as GPS spoofing.
  • GPS spoofing sends false data to a receiver to divert traffic, goods, or people with falsified information. 
  • How is it done? GPS spoofing involves a radio transmitter near a target that interferes with the actual GPS signals being transmitted.
    • GPS signals are often weak and transmitted through satellites.
    • A stronger radio transmitter can be used to override the weaker signal and send illegitimate coordinates and information to the receiver. 
    • GPS spoofing can then send people off course or say that someone is somewhere that they are not.

GPS System

  • GPS is one of the global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) used in the world.
  • Along with delivering location information, it is also used to keep accurate time.
  • These functions can also be disrupted through spoofing or jamming.

Not the same as GPS jamming

  • Spoofing is completely different from jamming and much more dangerous.
  • As the name suggests, jamming is when the GPS signals are interfered with.
  • While planes and other aircraft frequently deal with jamming, spoofing like the recent instances in Iran is reportedly unheard of.
  • Compared to GPS jamming, spoofing is more difficult to detect.

Increasing instances

  • Instances of GPS spoofing involving commercial and airline aircraft over Iranian airspace have increased.
  • The navigation systems of at least 20 passenger planes travelling over Iran have been interfered with by phoney GPS signals.
  • Boeing 777, 737, and 747 are among the aircraft that were deceived into deviating from their intended route by these erroneous signals originating from the ground.
  • These signals defeated the aircraft’s in-built navigation system, which swiftly resulted in the loss of all navigational capabilities.

What are the harms of GPS spoofing?

  • Misdirecting cargo shipments to alternate locations to steal the shipments
  • Hijacking a boat for piracy purposes
  • Interfering with GPS at airports
  • Misdirecting cars
  • Disrupting the universal time source
  • Disrupting services through mobile apps and websites

Verifying, please be patient.

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