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Team repeatedly takes over flying drone using $1000 DIY spoofer

Professor Todd Humphreys and his team from the University of Texas at Austin's Radionavigation Laboratory recently demonstrated the ease with which hackers can take over drones that rely on GPS signals. The ability to control a flying unmanned aircraft by spoofing the GPS signal should come as no surprise, considering it was used against the United States by Iran. In that instance, the U.S. drone was tricked into simply landing where the Iranian hackers wanted it.
 
According to the University of Texas team, there is a concern that compromised drones could be turned into weapons. The FAA is set to open skies over the United States to drone fleets for different uses including surveillance by law enforcement officials.
 
Humphreys opines, "Spoofing a GPS receiver on a UAV is just another way of hijacking a plane."
 
The scary part of the demonstration given by the professor and his team is that anyone with the right tools can take over the GPS-guided drone. Spoofing is when technology is used against drone that is able to manipulate navigation computers with false information that the drone sees as real. Humphreys and his team used what they call the most advanced spoofer ever built, and it costs only $1,000 to construct.
 
The GPS spoofer is able to send signals to the flying drone that are stronger than those from GPS satellites in orbit. The attack Humphreys demonstrated begins by matching the signal of the GPS system so the drone believes nothing has changed. Once the drone is fooled into following his GPS signal, his own commands are sent to the onboard computer, giving the team complete control of the drone.
 
Humphreys told Fox News, "In 5 or 10 years you have 30,000 drones in the airspace. Each one of these could be a potential missile used against us."
 
Humphreys and his team made a trip to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico where officials from the FAA and the Department of Homeland Security watched as Humphrey and his team repeatedly took control of over a drone from a nearby hilltop. The Department of Homeland Security is currently working with researchers like Humphreys and others to identify and mitigate the possibility of GPS interference.

Source: Fox News



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RE: That's pretty bad
By GPS_student on 6/26/2012 12:50:47 PM , Rating: 4
I work on GPS systems. There are effectively 2 versions of GPS. One is an open civilian version. The second one is an encrypted military version, which is more accurate and the important details of the signal are classified. Military drones will use the encrypted version.

Drones like the one spoofed at White Sands Missile Range use the civilian signal exclusively, likely with aiding from an inertial measurement unit.

Spoofing a drone does not mean you hacked into all of the controls and can make it shoot missiles, just that you can make it move where you want. Although, you could try to make it land and take its equipment.




RE: That's pretty bad
By johnsmith9875 on 6/26/2012 1:31:58 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps we should have it fall back on the Russian GLONASS system. The enemy wouldn't jam their own friendly signals.


RE: That's pretty bad
By Ammohunt on 6/26/2012 2:32:26 PM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't rely on anything "High tech" made in Russia.


RE: That's pretty bad
By Integral9 on 6/26/2012 2:54:28 PM , Rating: 4
Russian parts, American parts... ALL MADE IN TAIWAN!


RE: That's pretty bad
By johnsmith9875 on 6/26/2012 4:52:50 PM , Rating: 2
The Georgians found out the hard way about underestimating Russia's high tech systems.


RE: That's pretty bad
By AssBall on 6/26/2012 4:34:02 PM , Rating: 2
Never trust anything with ASS in its name.

/facepalm


RE: That's pretty bad
By johnsmith9875 on 6/26/2012 4:54:44 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure in Cyrillic it makes more sense.


RE: That's pretty bad
By Solandri on 6/26/2012 4:00:07 PM , Rating: 2
Also note that in order to successfully pull off the spoof, you have to know exactly where the drone is, in order to avoid tipping off its inertial navigation that something is wrong when its GPS location suddenly jumps 2 miles west.


RE: That's pretty bad
By johnsmith9875 on 6/26/2012 4:54:00 PM , Rating: 2
Or you can do what the Russians do, send up a Mig-29 and blow it out of the sky with an R-27 air to air missile.


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