In what at first appears to have been a highly sophisticated form a vandalism, that has exploited a loophole in GPS technology a super yacht has been hijacked.
Using simple equipment, at a cost dwarfed by what cyber-criminals often invest in hardware, the super yacht White Rose of Drachs, captain and crew have been left stunned and helpless a team from the University of Texas
Todd Humphreys and a team from the University of Texas have called GPS navigation into serious question by introducing a signal stronger than the one generated by these satellites.
With just a laptop, a small antenna, and a GPS “spoofing” device, the team fed a stronger signal to the yacht’s steering system than the genuine one, incoming from actual GPS satellites. By doing this, they essentially tricked the yacht’s computer into believing it was somewhere it was not, causing it to adjust its heading to stay on course.
The team was able to steer the ship to port or starboard at will, and the crew was totally unaware that anything was wrong. Captain Andrew Schofield told Fox News he was “gobsmacked,” when he found out what had been done to his ship, as was the entire deck crew.
Crew have come to rely on navigation technology to keep them from running afoul of all sorts of less obvious dangers.
This spoofing attack undermines the trust these professionals put in their navigation systems. Even slightly interfering with a large amount of sea traffic could hamper trading ports, and potentially throw a wrench into large-scale economies.