Is There a Way to Stop Cyberattacks to GPS Satellites?

A satellite dishA South-Carolina-based university seeks to prevent cybercriminals from disrupting GPS satellite signals, which could be costly to different industries.

GPS now serves an important role in military defense, banking and financial, healthcare, transportation, and telecommunications. Clemson University researchers plan to use a $1 million funding grant to eliminate the vulnerabilities in GPS technology.

Digital Time-Keeping

Yongqiang Wang, the project’s lead researcher, said that the project also aims to prevent cyberattacks to digital infrastructure. For instance, a hacked GPS network may allow criminals to access old login information on your financial records.

It can also cut the supply of electricity in hospitals, immobilize train stations and even shut down ATMs. Wang said that the project particularly focused on the private sector, including the electric grid.

While certain vulnerabilities exist, satellite developers normally use a jamming simulator to test the viability of disrupting signals before launching it into space. In California, some lawmakers already understand the need to enhance digital networks.

National Security

California Rep. John Garamendi described interference to GPS networks as a “major national security and economic issue.” He cited a spoofing incident in 2017 when a hacked navigation system led 20 ships in the Black Sea to arrive at the wrong location.

Another case involved airplanes that were unable to land at the Newark International Airport in New Jersey. This occurred as a truck driver, who used a GPS jammer to hide the vehicle’s location from the company boss, passed by the airport.

The advent of GPS helped many industries to develop their services. However, the progress of digital technology also paved the way for more complex cyberattacks.

For this reason, the public and private sector should be proactive in dealing with potential threats, since the consequences of GPS hacking may lead to loss of lives and property.