In June, the navigation system of the 213′ yacht White Rose was taken over by a team of University of Texas students. Using only a laptop, a small antenna, and a GPS “spoofing” device, the team fed a stronger signal to the yacht’s steering system than the genuine GPS signal, effectively over-riding the incoming signal from the actual GPS satellites. Fortunately, the students were not pirates, and they readily relinquished control of the $80 million yacht.
The students were lead by Professor Todd Humphreys who recently also hijacked a surveillance drone, much to the chagrin of the FAA and the Department of Homeland. The GPS spoofing equipment only cost around $1,000. The only good news is that the software itself is rather complicated and took the University of Texas team around four years to develop. Nevertheless, the prospect of the GPS navigational systems of planes, ships and even automobiles being in danger of being hijacked is troubling, to say the least. Thanks to Phil Leon for contributing to this post.