GPS Spoofing Traced To Iran

Middle East GPS spoofing seems to have an epicenter…

The source of massive GPS spoofing signals has been traced outside of Iran’s capitol city, Tehran, according to published reports.  A University of Texas student was responsible for the discovery using equipment on the International Space Station from the Radionavigation Lab at UT, the report said.

Since at least September, commercial and business aircraft in the Middle East have experienced navigation failures after receiving spoofed GPS broadcasts—the replacement of accurate position data with false coordinates.

For months, GPS spoofing has targeted commercial and business aviation in the Middle East. Now they have found the source (Image: File Photo).

“The attacks on GPS in the Middle East that have tricked many aircraft into drifting of course emphasize the increased sophistication and quantity of these threats,” said Joshua MoralesStarNav CEO.   “I am of the opinion that we need to increase the number GPS-independent sources that are used by the navigation system. By doing this, you increase the domain the threat has to attack. This reduces the likelihood of the drift off course being successful.”

A website called OPSGROUP, which has a membership of thousands of pilots, dispatchers, controllers and other aviation professionals, told Forbes that commercial aircraft using Airway UMB688 in northern Iraq have been victims of GPS spoofing.

It’s no surprise that the interference is coming from Iran, said Dana GowardResilient Navigation & Timing Foundation president.  “Tehran has a long history of interfering with GPS signals. Also, they seem to have established a version of Loran to reduce their own reliance on navigation and timing signals from space,” he said.  “And in some ways it is not surprising they don’t seem to be intentionally drawing aircraft off course, merely trying to deny GPS service.  This is a good reminder to everyone one that receivers will react to interference in different ways.”

Goward said that GPS and other satnav signals are fairly fragile.  “Any kind of interference, accidental or intentional could result in tragedy,” he said.

So far, reactions to the spoofing attacks have been limited by the United States and other governments.


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