Can A GPS Be Hacked – This Might Scare You!
How much do you know about GPS? The Global Positioning System (GPS) was first devised by the United States military but has since become ubiquitous in so much of our tech—including in our phones and vehicles. Let’s examine car GPS a little more closely, including how GPS tracker devices work, if they can be hacked, and more!
How GPS Hacking Works:
- GPS hacking can be carried out using various techniques, such as spoofing and jamming.
- Spoofing involves creating a fake GPS signal to deceive the device into thinking it’s in a different location or following a different route.
- Jamming, on the other hand, involves blocking the GPS signal using radio frequency interference.
- Hackers can use spoofing or jamming techniques to disrupt GPS communication, manipulate location data, or cause the device to malfunction.
Risks Associated with GPS Hacking:
- If a car’s GPS system is hacked, the hacker can track the car’s movements, which could be a significant privacy concern for the driver.
- Hackers could use the GPS system to gain access to sensitive information stored on the device, such as personal contacts or addresses.
- GPS hacking could also result in financial losses if the hacker is able to access credit card information or bank account details stored on the device.
Is It Possible For Someone To Spy On My Car – How You Vehicle Can Be Spied On
The short answer? Certainly! If your car GPS is online, someone can track it. Perhaps they’ve hacked the system (and are able to track your vehicle in that way), or perhaps they have a car GPS tracking system that they’ve hidden in or on your vehicle. Even if your car doesn’t have GPS, if you have your phone on you, someone can track you courtesy of your phone. Let’s look a little more at each of those ways of being tracked.
Car GPS: For cars with built-in GPS systems such as a car GPS, the likely purpose is for security (if your car is stolen, for instance, the car GPS can help authorities recover it via its location data) or safety (such as alerting emergency responders to your location if you are in an accident). If someone gains access to that data via a hacked system, they can track you even if that is not the original intent of the system.
GPS tracker: Even if your car doesn’t have a built-in car GPS feature, that feature can be added courtesy a vehicle tracker. This might be something you’re aware of (if you install it, for instance, such as for security, fleet management, or even to keep an eye on a teen driver), or it might not (such as if someone installs a GPS tracker on your vehicle without your knowledge). We’ll look at GPS modules a little more thoroughly in the coming sections.
Courtesy your phone (or any other device): If you have your phone (or any other GPS-enabled device on you) and are in your car, you can be tracked via that device if it or one of the systems (such as an app) that uses that data is hacked.
Is It Possible To Hack GPS – Real Word Examples
Certainly! In fact, some hackers are getting really good at it, including—and especially—the Russians. Let’s back up for a second and talk about the GPS network—it’s not the only satellite system in use for positioning purposes. The whole system is referred to as GNSS—Global Navigation Satellite System—and includes the American-made GPS, Europe’s Galileo network, China’s BeiDou network, and Russia’s Glonass network of satellites. Collectively, they mean that GPS-enabled devices are a huge part of the international infrastructure.
The Vulnerability of GPS Systems and Russia’s Hacking Capabilities
GPS systems, including car GPS and GPS tracking devices, are becoming increasingly popular. However, with the rise of GPS technology comes the potential for hacking, which can have severe consequences for national security, personal privacy, and even everyday life. This article will discuss the vulnerability of GPS systems and Russia’s hacking capabilities.
The Global Navigation Satellite System
GPS is one of the many satellite systems in use for positioning purposes, collectively known as the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). The GNSS network comprises the American GPS, Europe’s Galileo, China’s BeiDou, and Russia’s Glonass. The widespread use of GPS-enabled devices makes them a critical part of the international infrastructure.
Russia’s Hacking Capabilities
Recent cyber intelligence reports suggest that the Russian government has shown remarkable skill in hacking GPS signals. They are reportedly skilled at blocking, jamming, and spoofing GPS signals, compromising anything that relies on GPS location and time synchronization. This includes cell phones, shipping schedules and routes, airline traffic, power stations, and even law enforcement operations. As more people use GPS tracking apps and other easy-to-hack technologies, security researchers suggest that GNSS spoofing, data breaches, cyber-attacks, and spoofing attacks will only rise.
The Department of Defense’s Response:
The Department of Defense is pushing for the development of backup systems to reduce the risk of compromise should GPS systems be hacked. The Navy has suggested developing the PNT (Positioning, Navigation, and Timing) System that was originally suggested based on radio signals; its development was originally disrupted because the Defense Department believed GPS made it unnecessary. Now that Russia has shown such skill in hacking GPS, some are wary.
Russia’s Mobile Spoofing Capabilities:
Russia has not limited its GPS hacking capabilities to ships in the Black Sea, Crimea, and Syria. Recent reports suggest that more than 1,300 civilian ships were affected by GPS tracker capabilities being hacked, with nearly 10,000 incidents recorded in all. There have been instances in which Putin’s travels have aligned with ships going off-course, courtesy of hacked GPS. Russia has mobile spoofing capabilities, and it could happen anywhere.
The Pervasiveness of GPS Spoofing:
The availability of good spoofing equipment for less than a thousand dollars has made GPS spoofing a common occurrence. An $80 million yacht was sent off course in a research experiment in 2013 with a briefcase-sized device that cost $2,000, and now similar equipment might only cost a few hundred dollars, cheap enough for “Pokemon Go” players to cheat.
5 Location Spoofing Facts
- Location spoofing can be illegal if it’s done for malicious or fraudulent purposes. For example, if you use location spoofing to deceive someone into thinking you’re in a different location to commit a crime or scam, you could face legal consequences.
- Using location spoofing to violate a website or app’s terms of service can also be illegal. For instance, if you use a location spoofing app to cheat at a game or gain unauthorized access to premium content, you could be breaking the law.
- However, location spoofing for personal or harmless reasons is generally not illegal. For instance, if you use a location spoofing app to play a harmless prank on a friend, you’re unlikely to face legal consequences.
- In some cases, location spoofing can also violate your employer’s policies or contractual obligations. For example, if you use a location spoofing app to pretend you’re working from a different location, you may be in breach of your employment contract or company policies.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Trick Your Car Location?
The short answer? Certainly. Using a location spoofer, for instance, would allow for a hacked location tag. You can probably do much more, too, than just trick your car into thinking you are somewhere other than where you are depending on the GPS tracker.
Not only can you trick your car GPS with spoofing or another method for your hacked Global Positioning System, but you might even be able to remotely control it. (No longer is this just a Fast and the Furious franchise plot device; at least one hacker has actually proven it can be done.)
At least one hacker has discovered that a hacked GPS tracker might be enough to kill a car engine, at the very least.
A recent Vice story broke the news of a hacker who had remote control of thousands of GPS tracker accounts courtesy of two different GPS tracker companies he hacked, giving him control enough over vehicles around the world that he could, courtesy of a GPS tracker feature, stop the vehicles and turn their engine off if they were going 20 kilometers per hour (12 mph) or slower. All told, the hacker had control of nearly 30,000 accounts.
The hacked accounts were courtesy of a security system flaw in which ProTrack and iTrack each gave customers a default password that users were not forced to change. As a result, the hacker was able to use a script to remotely log in to thousands of accounts remotely using the default password, 123456.
Both ProTrack and iTrack are made by Chinese companies, iTryBrand, and SEEWORLD, respectively.
Is Location Spoofing Illegal?
But is location spoofing—whether the sort of technology Russia or less advanced equipment such as those rogue Pokemon Go players might use—legal?
The short answer is yes and no. While location spoofing—the equivalent of a hacked GPS location tag, whether for your phone, your GPS tracking apps, your car GPS tracker, or another use altogether—is illegal in the United States, it isn’t illegal everywhere.
GPS spoofers and jammers and other GNSS- or GPS- jamming, blocking, or spoofing equipment is produced on a large scale in places like China, and some of it may retail for as little as $100, though the better equipment does tend to cost more.
As great as it may sound, it’s really not a good idea—the consequences of location spoofing (depending on the context, of course) can be severe, such as if a plane’s autopilot corrected after being told it was somewhere it wasn’t by a GPS spoofer.
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