When searching for the term "GPS spoofing" in Quora, a question-and-answer website where questions are asked and answered by users, you’ll receive a couple of hundred questions and answers.
There is an enormous variety in topics revolving around the topic of manipulating GPS, but they can all be divided into two main categories– users eager to know how GPS spoofing works, and those worried by its consequences.
There are many questions related to the successful augmented reality mobile game Pokémon GO.
This is a location based game, challenging players to locate, capture, battle, and train Pokémon while walking around the real world. The location is determined by the mobile’s GPS receiver. But quickly after its release, players found a way to keep playing without leaving the comfort of their own house by spoofing their location.
Another common topic is the GPS tracking – parents tracking their teenage children, making sure they will stay out of trouble, or a spouse tracking a cheating significant other for evidence, and several topics on GPS tracking for mobiles, vehicles and aircrafts.
Some users are also exploring the concept of GPS spoofing, either because they are involved in the GNSS field and plan to utilize it for different technologies such as autonomous vehicles. Or those who are looking to learn more about it since it is all over the news in recent years and they want to understand more why is it causing geo-political tensions around the world.
From this wide range of questions, we have picked out five that we think are a good representation, crossing all kinds of topics revolving around GPS spoofing:
Q: How do I play Pokemon Go with GPS spoofing?
A: You can find many apps to spoof GPS location like Fake GPS app in Android. Install this app, run the app and set the location like London, Sydney. Now open Pokemon Go app, while playing you can see a overlay button with left, right, top directions button which on clicking you will walk in that direction as if you are really walking.
Go to different famous places like Sydney Sea world, Newyork Times Square, etc.. where you can capture number of Pokemons. You can just level up in no time.
Q: How can GPS-Spoofing affect the self driving (autonomous driving) cars?
A: It can potentially be quite dangerous. It all depends on the car’s sensor fusion architecture. Autonomous cars rely on several sensors among them: Camera, Radar, LiDAR, and also GNSS (GPS). If the incoming GPS data is manipulated, and the vehicle has no way of detecting it, then this corrupt data will be included in the sensor fusion of the vehicle. The other sensors normally indicate there is a mismatch in incoming information and should be able to raise an alert that the GPS is compromised.
However, if all the other sensor information matches the GNSS input, it would mean the vehicle assumes it’s in another location, and, then it would plan its route and driving decision according to this false data.
Q: Now that we know Putin changed GPS satellites and affected navigation, is anyone concerned about what else Russia can do?
A: To be clear, Putin isn’t doing anything to GPS satellites. Russian authorities appear, however, to be engaging in GPS spoofing (or, more precisely, GNSS spoofing, because there’s more than one global navigation satellite system out there now: China’s Baidou, Europe’s Galileo and Russia’s own GLONASS).
The Center for Advanced Defense Studies recently released a report chronicling thousands of incidents of GNSS spoofing in Russia, Crimea and Syria. The incidents appear to correlate with sensitive Russian facilities, active combat zones, and the travel itinerary of one Vladimir V. Putin. In one case, while Putin was opening a bridge between Russia and Crimea, nearby ships were suddenly informed by their GNSS receivers that they were dozens of kilometres away from their actual position.
GPS spoofing occurs when a false GPS signal is broadcast in a specific location. It’s relatively easy to overpower true GPS signals, which are relatively weak (the satellites are 20,000 km up, after all); the GPS receiver is then tricked by the false signal into thinking it’s somewhere else. The satellites themselves are unaffected; they’re just being drowned out by a local, fake signal.
It’s not a new idea: it’s been predicted or shown as a proof of concept for several years. It was only a matter of time before it was put into widespread use, and since the Russian authorities are fans of asymmetric technological methods, it’s no real surprise that they seem to be doing it. If Russia is buggering up GPS/GNSS at specific locations for security reasons, that has implications for nearby navigation at the very least. But it’s not remotely the same thing as messing up the GPS satellite constellation itself.
Q: How is GPS-spoofing performed?
A: The most common kind of spoofing GNSS users will come across is that of Meaconing. Meaconing - Wikipedia Meaconing is the re-transmission of the GNSS signals at a higher than that of the normal GNSS signals. Once spoofed receivers will report the location of the attacker not their own location. A GPS repeater is a meaconer.
More advanced types of spoofing attack are possible in which the device under attack could be spoofed (fooled) to move in a certain pre-defined way (or in the case of a timing receiver get the wrong time) by broadcasting signals with erroneous data where a false pseudorange (or even navigation data) replace (due to higher signal strength) the original values.
The two use cases outlined above are completely different in terms of intent - often accidental spoofing occurs when a GPS repeater broadcasts at too higher signal strength and users who not in the immediate area are effected (Those in the immediate area are meant to be effected and wish to be! For example a plane in hangar wants to have their GNSS up and running before they leave for the runway; normally the GNSS signals do not penetrate the hangar OR an underground car park etc etc). A targeted attack is of course much more of a concern as the attacker is trying to gain an advantage over the GNSS user - we are moving in to military realms or that of industrial sabotage - e.g. disruption of timing networks.
Q: How do I stop my wife from spoofing her GPS on Android?
A: Because spoofing GPS on an iOS/Android is as simple as downloading and running a GPS faker app, it's likely your wife has one of these running in the background on her phone. Deleting or turning off the app will cause her phone to revert to tracking her device where it actually is.
GPS is a fascinating technology that invites many questions about its reliability since it’s such a big part of our daily lives and technologies.
The million-dollar question, and the one that many parties are looking for answers about, is how can we defend ourselves from GPS interference.
With GPS technology usage growing, so do the methods to perform jamming and spoofing, providing us more questions regarding the security of GNSS and making it hard to give one definitive answer about it. Regulus Cyber is one of several companies that is developing methods to protect GPS, if you’d like to learn more about our GNSS Cybersecurity software, check out our website - www.regulus.com
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