Russia’s “GPS spoofing” Affecting Shipping Lines, Report Says

Russia has regularly disrupted Global Positioning System (GPS) signals as part of its security practices in the past 12 years, a new report by non-profit Center for Advanced Defense (C4ADS) reveals, according to the BBC.

The report by the think tank documents almost 10,000 separate GPS spoofing incidents conducted by Russia, showing a bubble of spoofed GPS signals projected around Russian President Vladimir Putin when he visits sensitive locations.

The GPS system is a product stemming from the cold war, but since 2000 it has enabled the era of the satellite navigation, yet it is still controlled by the U.S. government. But it is not infallible, and growing concern over the vulnerability of the GPS to jamming and other interference has prompted South Korea for example to invest in a land-based radio navigation system.

Russia’s flooding is in an area with radio signals that mimic those sent by global GPS satellites. These ground-based signals are much stronger than those sent from satellites so the real information is crowded out.

Around 1,311 ships passing through Russian waters had to correct their courses because GPS signals were being spoofed and were unreliable, said the report. Ships generally had several sources of navigation information, it added, so they could get back on their correct path once they noticed they were headed off course.

One of the best known situations when navigational data was seen to go haywire was when Putin visited the Kerch Strait Bridge in Crimea in 2018, said the report.

The study concluded that spoofing was only likely to become more widespread as the equipment needed to generate the fake GPS signals was now so cheap.

“Whether for profit, protection, or disruption, illicit actors, writ large, stand to gain from the proliferation of these capabilities,” it said.