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Trump orders government to reduce GPS use over hacking fears

Feb 18, 2020 08:34 AM

The aim is to minimize the number of dependent systems in navigation and positioning

Courtesy Safety at Sea

The following is text of a news release from Safety at Sea:

(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump has issued an executive order directing the Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Commerce to minimize the number of U.S. systems dependent on GPS for navigation and positioning.

The order, signed on Feb. 12, was issued amid hacking fears and highlights U.S. vulnerabilities in cybersecurity. “The risk of GPS interference is on the rise globally. These GPS attacks are done by either state actors or lone operators," said Roi Mit, chief marketing officer of Regulus Cyber, an autonomous security solutions company, commenting on the U.S. president’s order.

“As time goes by more and more technologies around us are becoming dependent on satellite navigation and timing, especially in the autonomous era, thus it is now becoming one of the largest cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the modern age,” Mit said.

GPS interferences such as jamming, spoofing, hacking and signal altering can be generated easily as GPS was designed to be open and accessible.

One such high-profile GPS spoofing incident took place in the Black Sea, where 53 ships were "relocated" during a Russian military exercise. Another incident took place last year in the Azov-Black Sea basin, where Ukrainian commercial vessels suffered GPS jamming allegedly from Russian-controlled areas.

The cybervulnerability testing firm Pen Test Partners demonstrated at the Infosecurity Europe conference in 2019 how electronic chart systems can be hacked to spoof the location and size of vessels. The firm concluded that such a hack could cause chaos in busy shipping lanes if proper cybersecurity measures are not taken.

The European Union and the United Kingdom are similarly working on GPS regulation.

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