back to article Feds arrest rogue trucker after GPS jamming borks New Jersey airport test

A New Jersey truck driver is facing a fine of nearly $32,000 after leaving the GPS jammer he was using to dodge his bosses active during a visit to Newark, New Jersey's Liberty International Airport. Gary Bojczak, then an employee of crushed-stone supplier Tilcon, was using a $100 GPS jammer plugged into the cigarette lighter …

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Interfering with the operation of an airport by jamming on a restricted frequency. I think this guy has got off very lightly could easily have ended up on the next flight to gitmo. Personally I think he would have deserved it.

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He was lucky he wasn't shot down in a hail of bullets as a terrorist suspect or jailed for 1000 years for crimes against the state.

Will now be known as 'Lucky Bojczak'.

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Yeah, because that happens ALL THE TIME. Cool story, Bro.

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As Bob Marley would have said:

"wi jammin'"

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The new battlefield...

How long until some company starts fitting their vehicles which limits the speed to 25mph when there's no valid GPS signal being received?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The new battlefield...

Such a device would probably work as well as the 100km/hr speed-limiting governors installed on trucks here in Australia.

Many times I recall being passenger in a car being tailgaited by a V-double at 130km/hr in a 100km/hr zone on the way to Cunningham's Gap.

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Alert

Re: The new battlefield...

> limits the speed to 25mph when there's no valid GPS signal being received

I hope not, especially considering what would happen if a truck with one of these that goes into a highway tunnel, enclosed bridge, or other unintentional faraday cage around a fast thoroughfare.

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Silver badge

Re: The new battlefield...

Don't need a complex solution. Just tell the guy that if his truck doesn't show a valid position during working hours he will be assumed to be skiving, and will have his pay docked.

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Re: The new battlefield...

".......which limits the speed to 25mph when there's no valid GPS signal ......."

How would that work in a road tunnel? Traffic would come to a virtual standstill.

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Re: The new battlefield...

> How would that work in a road tunnel?

Simple answer: Have a time out for loss of signal before limiting the speed.

More complicated answer: You've got a GPS - the vehicle will know it's going into a road tunnel, so the limiter could be disabled for that stretch.

Anyway, it's an off the cuff idea, based on my experience that for every way round a stupid rule the workers find, the bosses will find a grossly over-exaggerated method to counter the work around in preference to solving the issue the workers are facing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The new battlefield...

"Don't need a complex solution. Just tell the guy that if his truck doesn't show a valid position during working hours he will be assumed to be skiving, and will have his pay docked."

Or just fire him. On a work vehicle, he works for them, follow the rules or be fired. If he doesn't like the rules, he is free to find employment elsewhere anytime he wants.

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Re: The new battlefield...

It should also be trivially easy to figure out there is a jamming device in the area. If the GPS which is used to sniffing out a tiny signal is suddenly having to figure out what to do with a couple watts of noise it should be a fairly safe bet that something isn't right. As you say, it could have a time out function to allow for passing some noisy signal source before starving the fuel or something.

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Re: The new battlefield...

Brilliant idea! You go through a tunnel - 10 tonne truck grinds the traffic to a near halt. You go under some dense canopy of trees on a cloudy day - car keeps jumping between normal speed and 25mph. I can see that having no safety implications at all!

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Re: will be assumed to be skiving, and will have his pay docked.

Screw that!

Give him his final 2 week bonus and be done with it.

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Thumb Down

Re: The new battlefield...

Or what happens when some goob using a GPS jammer is driving next to you?

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Mushroom

Crumbs

A bit of an Achilles heel there if a $100 device can cause havoc with an airport.

Systems need to be hardened from malicious attacks and it was fortunate that this was stopped in time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Crumbs

Buy shares in the company that makes them, now word is out, every terrorist, his aunt, grandad and chicken will be ordering one.

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Silver badge

Re: Crumbs

How do you harden a radio receiver from a signal on a frequency that it is designed to receive, but hundreds of times stronger than the desired signal? Solve that problem and the Pentagon will be on your doorstep waving its checkbook.

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Re: Crumbs

"Solve that problem..."

Simple, don't use radio. Now, where's my check?

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Re: Crumbs

It's not that big an Achilles heel, and I see this in a different light - the whole event shows that a terrorist attempting to jam the GPS at an airport would be unlikely to succeed. There's nothing "fortunate" about it, evidently the airport authorities were prepared and able to respond to an attack of this kind.

A problem was identified during the test: a jamming signal affecting the guidance systems. The source was triangulated and located, agents dispatched to the location, and the problem was solved in a timely fashion and in good order.

I was impressed to see that there was no overreaction by authorities on this one; no SWAT teams armed to the teeth stomping the guy's face into the pavement, no gung-ho cops tasering innocent bystanders, no besuited operatives ramming gloved hands into body cavities. Just a measured response to the threat and the sensible capitulation of the culprit. It was what could be called a textbook case.

So this doesn't seem to me to be a failure of security. To my mind, it looks like a resounding success.

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Joke

Re: Crumbs

But Elliot Carver would be pissed off at paying so much

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Re: Crumbs

"A bit of an Achilles heel there if a $100 device can cause havoc with an airport.

Systems need to be hardened from malicious attacks and it was fortunate that this was stopped in time."

You can't make everything bomb proof (maybe not the best phrase to use with planes)

There was a few incidences of pocket lasers being pointed at planes coming in to land at my local airport.

Its cheaper than the jammer and caused more problems.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Crumbs

Exactly. A weapon that involves your radiating a defined band of lowish power EM waves is a bit of a nonstarter. I always liked the HARM missile, which is designed to lock onto radar transmissions. A nice clean weapon unless you were silly enough to have your radar station right under the aerial, which was a mistake not be repeated.

Perhaps a mini version is needed, a drone version that cruises the Interstates in rural areas and takes out the engines of Type 10s when the driver turns on the jammer. The word would soon get round.

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Bronze badge

Re: Crumbs

What was interesting was the speed with which they worked out where the jamming device was. The implication being that (a) it was anticipated and (b) there was the equipment and people capable of operating it available.

Not sure I would have made that public.....

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Re: Crumbs

Planes have (largely) been landing successfully for a hundred years without this "augmented" service.

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Devil

Re: Pentagon will be on your doorstep waving its checkbook.

Actually they already have them and yes they are expensive. They fly through the air and have an explosive device attached to them. I think they call them "missiles". Not sure how kindly the general population would take to them being routinely used for that purpose at the local airport though.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Crumbs

It's a GPS signal, an aid. Pilots have been landing for years without GPS and if needed already have an adequate guidance system for landing. This GPS based system is not even a nice to have and is hardly a target for terrorists. It just sounds like someone trying to spend their budget so as not to lose it.

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Re: "Achilles Heel"

Yes Chris, I think it's important to stress this point further. It is important not to be Chicken Licken.

In the story it says that the GPS system at the airport was a trial with new equipment, an experiment. Not part of the standard systems for day-to-day operation.

Both commercial and light aircraft do not rely upon GPS.

GPS is just one source of information for a pilot where available and much less important than other things such as radio triangulation, radio markers, dead reckoning, inertial navigation, and their eyesight.

A GPS jammer is not going to cause carnage in the skies or at the airport. Like Chris says, planes have been successfully navigated and landed at night and in adverse weather, regularly and reliably since long before GPS was invented. Many light aircraft pilots do not employ GPS as it is not necessary.

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Gimp

Re: Crumbs

Have you seen the Federal budget??? Don't take a check, demand cash.

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Anonymous Coward

Stupid Airport

Now all the bad guys know that if the mess with GPS at this airport they could make one plane crash into another. After all aren't pilots just glorified taxi drivers and isn't the GPS always correct?

I've worked at other airports where this is used but they know that using GPS is a stopgap solution and should not be the system of last resort. We were also forbidden to tell anyone if airport XXX used it and airport YYY didn't. It would have been considered a major security breach.

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Re: Stupid Airport

"Now all the bad guys know that if the mess with GPS at this airport they could make one plane crash into another. After all aren't pilots just glorified taxi drivers and isn't the GPS always correct?"

I can only assume you're being facetious here...

"I've worked at other airports where this is used but they know that using GPS is a stopgap solution and should not be the system of last resort. We were also forbidden to tell anyone if airport XXX used it and airport YYY didn't. It would have been considered a major security breach."

But I have no idea what is being referred to here. It doesn't do the pilots much good if they don't know what instrument approach procedures are available at a given airport. GPS isn't a "stopgap solution" but rather it's becoming "the solution" for IFR navigation (at least for the U.S.). Of course, it doesn't help that LORAN was shut down, and the existing ground-based radio navigation aids are in the process of being decommissioned without a backup system to GPS (INS doesn't count, since you can't use it for precision approaches and it needs to be regularly realigned due to position drift).

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Re: Stupid Airport

Maybe he's talking about the LAAS being tested at Newark. Otherwise, as you pointed out, it makes no sense. I'm probably being too generous.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Stupid Airport

A major security breach? When anyone with a directional aerial could locate the augmentation transmitter themselves? Completely ineffective, and, therefore, with the current level of security theatre, a completely believable policy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stupid Airport

> We were also forbidden to tell anyone if airport XXX used it and airport YYY didn't. It would have been considered a major security breach.

Ermm... May I assume you are talking about RNAV approaches? If so, they are published in each country's AIP, which for the majority of industrialised countries is freely and publicly available online (and for the rest, there is Jepessen).

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Interfering devices...

Nice that they got the box. Now go after the manufacturer as well. What is needed to go after the manufacturer of all "interfering devices". For my money, plasma TVs are on the top of the list. They make all sorts of RF hash.

Make ALL manufacturers comply with FCC Part 15 rules. Please!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Interfering devices...

The problems you will get in the US (and to a lesser extent elsewhere) fit into the following categories:

1. The NRA will think it is a slippery slope on the way to banning guns, which also interfere with things, usually people.

2. Lawmakers and politicians like to be able to get hold of this kind of equipment themselves without falling foul of the law. Possibly to protect children...

3. The manufacturers have money and money buys immunity.

4. It's a core idea in American philosophy that people should be allowed access to dangerous toys so long as they use them responsibly.

5. I suspect that the manufacturer is in China and supplies are via Hong Kong or Shanghai.

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Silver badge

Re: Interfering devices...

Why ? it didn't inadvertantly cause interference - it did exactly what it was supposed to do

A more likely reaction is to fit these to all police cars just in case the commie/terrorist/hippies are using them .

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Trollface

Re: Interfering devices...

"Nice that they got the box. Now go after the manufacturer as well. What is needed to go after the manufacturer of all "interfering devices". For my money, plasma TVs are on the top of the list. They make all sorts of RF hash.

Make ALL manufacturers comply with FCC Part 15 rules. Please!!"

FCC rules only apply in the US; China is not part of the US and so not subject to FCC rules. These jammers are (as far as I know) all made in China and (again, as far as I know) 100% legal there.

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Re: Interfering devices...

Jamming a signal isn't exactly high science...

The same guys who ramp the power up on the CB radio systems in trucks make these things all day long. You can buy one at any full service truck stop here in the US, just look for the sign for the 'Chrome Shop' and they'll set you up. They've got them disguised as power adapters, CD changers, electric beverage coolers, or they'll permenantly install one under the dash in your truck if you like.

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Re: Interfering devices...

The FCC does not care that retailers sell these devices. The reason I know this is that sometime in the past year or two I filed a complaint with the FCC. The complaint concerned an online vendor selling a GPS jammer amoung his other thousands of items. I told the FCC that this vendor probably was not aware of the illegality of the use of this device, that they should inform him of this.

The FCC reply to my online complaint was that I should take the matter up with the Federal Trade Comission. In other words, the FCC is only concerned with actual harmful emissions. They could care less about the sale of these jammers-- not their problem.

Not my problem either. I have not been holding my breath while getting around to contacting the FTC.

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Silver badge

Re: Interfering devices...

"...could care less..."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Interfering devices...

So...let me get this quite clear...laws don't apply to rednecks?

Really if there was any real desire to fix the problem it should be pretty easy to make detectors for GPS jammers from available parts, put them at suitable locations, and pass the usual American laws with huge punishments for anyone caught using one. This scheme could be very well self-funding. The same ingenuity which conceals the jammers could equally conceal the detectors.

Given the usual function of these devices, prostitutes in desert states may have to be a little more creative in their operations. But we want to encourage innovation in service industries as well as tech.

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How long before this or a variation of it is employed by cell phone thieves?

How long before this or a variation of it is employed by cell phone thieves?

It will be scary for some, but, evidence bags presumably do the same thing when the phone is in transit.

(IIRC, on /., or on theregister, it was mentioned that police use the bags to prevent owners or criminals whose phones were seized for investigations from disabling or remote-wiping the phones.

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Happy

Obvious Fail

The problem here was NOT the GPS jammer. It was obviously the fact he was in RED Ford truck at the airport. All Ford trucks used at airports in the U.S. are supposed to be blue.

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LarsG: Will now be known as 'Lucky Bojczak'.

Out of a job. $32K fine that can't be discharged in bankruptcy. Could maybe see his commercial license revoked.

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Anonymous Coward

If you ask me

Anyone caught using a GPS jammer should have their vehicle crushed and all the computers and any other expensive equipment publicly steamrollered.

Simple solution and guarantees that people will think twice about using such a dangerous and antisocial technology.

-AC

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Re: If you ask me

Does that mean we have to crush the Pope-Mobile and the cars of most heads of State? I know the Pope and the US President use them, I'm only assuming other 'important' people do to. There are a few companies here in the States that make them you know, they all aren't used by idiot truck drivers.

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Facepalm

"Dangerous and antisocial technology"

In Newark, GPS jammers are the least of your worries in *that* category...

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Re: If you ask me

Except in certain situations, such as near an airport, what other "dangerous" situations do you consider GPS blockers cause? I'm also intrigued as to what you think is "antisocial" about them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If you ask me

I'm also intrigued as to what you think is "antisocial" about them.

They'll screw up any legitimate GPS users (SatNav etc.) in the immediate vicinity. That's pretty antisocial, much as a cellphone jammer would be.

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