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Researchers Detect Big Flaws in GPS

By - Source: CMU | B 15 comments

$2,500 worth of hardware can reportedly bring down almost a third of the GPS Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS).

According to a researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Coherent Navigation, a 45 second message broadcast could have a crippling effect on consumer and professional receivers. The findings, which included GPS receivers from brands such as Garmin, GlobalSat, Magellan, uBlox, Locosys and iFly, are especially worrying as critical services today rely on a functioning and reliable GPS network: "Until GPS is secured, life and safety-critical applications that depend upon it are likely vulnerable to attack," the researchers concluded.

While the project group said that they are currently the only ones to know about the spoofing vulnerability of GPS, the necessary equipment to attack the network is obtainable for little money. All attacks were targeted on the software layer of GPS receivers and were able to cause substantial damage in the form of system crashes, synchronization errors, or even remote wipes of GPS devices.

The researchers suggested that GPS receivers require a much better data and OS-level defense aimed at identifying untrusted code: "One immediate best practice would be for GPS receiver manufacturers to build and deploy automated software update mechanisms. At present, users typically must go to the manufacturers home page, download the update, and then transfer it to the receiver. Other recommendations include receivers white-listing programs that can run, and implementing modern OS defenses such as ASLR and DEP."

They also proposed GPS "whitening systems" that "takes in a potentially anomalous or malicious signal, and retransmits a known good signal."

 

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  • 16 Hide
    djscribbles , December 11, 2012 3:04 PM
    jaquithGreat another a-hole found a way to hack something.


    If by A-hole, you mean a security researcher who is interested in uncovering a vulnerability and publishing a synopsis of it to draw attention to the need for action before it's discovered by someone with malicious intentions and used to do serious harm...

    then yeah, what a jerk...
  • 10 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , December 11, 2012 1:41 PM
    Apple Maps :whistle: 
Other Comments
  • 10 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , December 11, 2012 1:41 PM
    Apple Maps :whistle: 
  • 0 Hide
    warezme , December 11, 2012 1:45 PM
    Uh, the flaw is in the upload and file access system of the receiver itself being vulnerable. That could be greatly mitigated by the user only downloading their software from a secure manufacture site. I have a Garmin Nuvi and found out I can get all sorts of "voices" and junk from lots of sources. While this is more open, it makes the device vulnerable to this type of hacking.
  • -4 Hide
    redeye , December 11, 2012 2:14 PM
    not good at all... but does the "military GPS" have this problem?. if not, theN "license" Emergency services to use the "military" GPS... PROBLEM solved... off course if the military does not want to this ... WERE ALL DOOMED, I SAY, WERE ALL DOOMED. LOL... and SOL.
    but any sane person does not trust GPS 100% of the time.
    (look outside and at your surrounding people!)
    and use the internet to get maps... (second source helps)
    (but this could be a feature, the white house (or government builds) would be protected by having this kind of "jammer" to Deactivate any gps's...
  • 1 Hide
    izmanq , December 11, 2012 2:24 PM
    nah, i don't believe this news :p  what attack ? i think gps only calculating distance from satellites signal, maps are downloaded offline.
  • 16 Hide
    djscribbles , December 11, 2012 3:04 PM
    jaquithGreat another a-hole found a way to hack something.


    If by A-hole, you mean a security researcher who is interested in uncovering a vulnerability and publishing a synopsis of it to draw attention to the need for action before it's discovered by someone with malicious intentions and used to do serious harm...

    then yeah, what a jerk...
  • 6 Hide
    razor512 , December 11, 2012 3:21 PM
    I always trust my GPS, for example with my iphone, I found that I could get to work faster by taking the Brooklyn bridge across the english channel in order to get into the L.A. metropolitan area during rush hour.
  • 2 Hide
    madooo12 , December 11, 2012 3:22 PM
    well that's why there's GLONASS, plus the article says that the problem is not with GPS itself but with the receiver devices, it's like saying a CPU is flawed because you're running a flawed OS
  • -7 Hide
    jaquith , December 11, 2012 3:23 PM
    Quote:
    then yeah, what a jerk...

    They became 'jerks' and 'a-holes' the second they published the actual wiring Diagram & How To in their (public) PDF; see page 5 - http://users.ece.cmu.edu/~dbrumley/courses/18487-f12/readings/Nov28_GPS.pdf . Why don't you rely on a tad more than this excerpt.

    NOW!!! -- anyone else can easily follow their spoofing...yeah what a help!!

    Q - will you still be laughing once a airplane, drone, and/or etc kills an innocent person?
  • 2 Hide
    sonofliberty08 , December 11, 2012 3:31 PM
    they remotely upload virus to your GPS device and it will explode when u reach your destination - die hard :p 
  • 1 Hide
    madooo12 , December 11, 2012 3:42 PM
    Razor512I always trust my GPS, for example with my iphone, I found that I could get to work faster by taking the Brooklyn bridge across the english channel in order to get into the L.A. metropolitan area during rush hour.

    how is that GPS?, it's called maps
  • -5 Hide
    Anonymous , December 11, 2012 4:18 PM
    Since when did they let retards study in University?
  • 1 Hide
    f-14 , December 11, 2012 4:43 PM
    hmmm..so that's how the Iranians captured top of the line american drones.
  • 1 Hide
    TeraMedia , December 11, 2012 6:15 PM
    @f-14: was thinking the same thing. I have a vague recollection of some peaceful group or non-profit using drones to help people, but can't remember what it was. Regardless, I figured that Iran took down one of their drones and is showcasing that as a US military drone for press.
  • 1 Hide
    jhansonxi , December 11, 2012 6:48 PM
    jaquithQ - will you still be laughing once a airplane, drone, and/or etc kills an innocent person?
    Iran already captured a drone, reportedly using a remote hack to get it to land in their desert: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran%E2%80%93U.S._RQ-170_incident

    Security via obscurity doesn't work and never has. It's only a big secret to those who are already exploiting it.

    It makes the development process of the original engineers look quite inept when a third-party researcher can break their systems without any assistance or information from them.