Hostile Control of Ships via False GPS Signals: Demonstration and Detection

Jahshan Bhatti and Todd E. Humphreys

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: An attacker’s ability to control a maritime surface vessel by broadcasting counterfeit civil Global Positioning System (GPS) signals is analyzed and demonstrated. The aim of this work is to explore civil maritime transportation’s vulnerability to deceptive GPS signals and to develop a detection technique that is compatible with sensors commonly available on modern ships. It is shown that despite access to a variety of high-quality navigation and surveillance sensors, modern maritime navigation depends crucially on satellite navigation and that a deception attack can be disguised as the effects of slowly-changing ocean currents. An innovations-based detection framework that optimally chooses the measurement sampling interval to minimize the probability of a ship exceeding its alert limits without detection is developed and analyzed. A field experiment confirms the vulnerability analysis by demonstrating hostile control of a 65-m yacht in the Mediterranean Sea.
Published in: NAVIGATION: Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 64, Number 1
Pages: 51 - 66
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