A team of hackers successfully demonstrated how one can pirate an expensive yacht through global positioning system spoofing. Media reports confirm that the team of university students has showed that it’s possible to subvert GPS navigation signals to pilot a super-yacht without any tripping alarms.
First of all, it should be noted that the hackers had the permission of the owners to pirate. So, the group of students managed to take control of the White Rose, a 65-meter super yacht worth $80 million. The vessel was heading from Monaco to the island of Rhodes in the Mediterranean. The experiment was carried out 50 km off the coast of Italy in international waters. The students broadcast faint GPS signals from a spoofing device which was the size of a briefcase. The signals aimed at the positioning system aerials of the vessel.
As a result, the real GPS signals were slowly overpowered by the signals transmitted from the spoofing device, which allowed the students to gain control over the ship’s navigational system. The hackers set the vessel onto a new course – three degrees off. While the electronic chart on the bridge of the yacht showed that the vessel was progressing along a straight line, crew and the students were able to see that the yacht had turned.
The experts add that the flaw also applies to aircraft operated by autopilot. At the moment, the team is working out a way this kind of spoofing can be detected or countered.