The Global Positioning System, or GPS, is a vital service embedded deep into the lives of modern civilization. No one could have known how imperative this design would be across all areas of life. We have everything from self-driving cars to geofencing to finding a safe route home. The problem with GPS however, is it can be jammed by ill seekers. GPS relies on weak signals from about 12,600 miles above our Earth. GPS service is easily interrupted by underground tunnels, mountain ranges, and high rise cities. So how reliable is GPS? Well, there are pocket-sized GPS jammers available to buy online for cheap. The range is small and only shoots a radius of a few meters, yet someone with a little know-how could actually build a device to encompass large areas.
The consequences of not having it together with GPS technology are more difficult than simply not being able to find a nearby Starbucks. Failure of GPS can mean complete loss of control, especially for a force such as an airplane or sea vessel. Do we have a GPS backup? So far, our GPS system consists of global coverage of just 32 orbiting satellites. You can see nine satellites at any given time. The distance between the satellites and us means the signals are very easy to jam. The solution to a potential threat with GPS would be to consider other alternatives to GPS, or even building ground-based alternatives in lieu of worst-case scenario would occur.
Unintentional interference has already occurred without most even noticing it. You can be in your car driving and the navigation system drops out for maybe 30 seconds or less. Reports have that this has already happened with huger risks such as jets barreling through the sky.
It is explained that since GPS has been around for awhile, and seemed dependable, many other navigation systems (some used as a backup) have been removed now, making us solely dependent on GPS navigation system. They were considered expensive to maintain and only covered local areas. Yet, perhaps this is the exact reason we need to keep those other navigation systems in place. Researchers say critical infrastructure can be impacted by GPS failure to the extent of ‘loss of life’. Interference can include plane and airport navigation systems, ships and security vans, and emergency service vehicles.
For now, no one seems to want to discuss this as a problem. One researcher even said it is a touchy subject everyone is afraid to talk about. This in and of itself, is a huge problem. We are basically setting ourselves up for a target. Never mind the electrical grid, worry about devastation from a cheap jamming into our GPS system. Next time, when you are deep in your GPS routing a cycle path home and your GPS blanks out for a minute, consider the consequences of this on a large scale. Maybe people should talk about it.
Learning to protect your devices and data can be frustrating and sometimes, too late. We seem to do what we are told in ways of malware protection, and antivirus programs uploaded. Yet, the truth is we are not really that much protected. Hackers will confess this over and over to anyone listening, and sometimes even taking the time to prove it to you with a simple sample of their hacks. Below are four areas hackers don’t want you to know about. Drink it in wisely.
Did you know a mediocre hacker can take out your WEB encryption within minutes? The Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) –based security is providing users with a false sense of security. When people set up their wireless routers years ago; they never bothered to change the wireless encryption to newer and stronger types of WPA2 security. Lesson one: Update your router.
If you are using your wireless router’s MAC filter to prevent unauthorized devices from accessing your network…this is ineffective and for a hacker, easily defeated. Hackers can and do spoof or forge a fake MAC address that matches an approved one…such as yours. They use a wireless packet capture program to eavesdrop on the wireless traffic and pull the MAC addresses traveling the network. Lesson two: you may be sharing your ip address with a hacker.
At your favorite public hotspot? Then you are an easy target for a session hijacking attack. Hackers use tools like Firesheep and AirJack to pull off a man-in-the-middle attack where they can easily put themselves into the wireless conversation between receiver and the sender. It is during this time they begin to harvest your account passwords, read your email, view your IM, and basically anything else they may be wanting. They can also use SSL Strip tools to obtain passwords for all those secure websites you visit. Lesson Three: Spend the money to use a VPN service provider to protect all of your traffic. They provided an additional layer of security which hackers find difficult to penetrate. Costs range from $7 and up per month. Let the hacker find an easier target.
Another point of entry for hackers to get into your security setting and change them is when you disable your wireless router’s remote administration features. This means you avoid being plugged into the router using an Ethernet cable. This may be convenient for being able to administer the router remotely, but remains a portal to hacker friendly. Many people never even change the factory default admin passwords which is an absolute no-no. Lesson four: Change your passwords, and turn on the “allow admin via wireless” feature so only those with physical contact to your computer connection to your network can administer the wireless router settings.
Don’t let the hackers get the best of you…including all of your computer data. Stay ahead and stay smart in technology. Be sure they are.