back to article Sad Nav: How a cheap GPS spoofer gizmo can tell drivers to get lost

Researchers have developed kit that masquerades as GPS satellites to deceive nearby GPS receivers and thus potentially trick drivers into heading off in the wrong direction. The team – a trio of groups at Microsoft, Virginia Tech in the US, and the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China – detailed in a paper …

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The Rout of Civilisation

Just think, they can now falsely direct a vehicle down a too-narrow lane, across a river without using a bridge, the wrong way down a one-way street, across fields, under bridges that are too low and all the other things that real GPS does to vehicles.

It'll be wonderful!

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Alien

Re: The Rout of Civilisation

The massacre of mankind.

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Re: The Rout of Civilisation

Perhaps we can use it to stop those dickheads in lorries using roads they really shouldnt. Down here in the sticks we get them driving up roads they cant get down, and they dont seem to be able to reverse any more - is that still in the test? Just last week I had to make a 5 mile 40 minute detour to avoid two lorries who had tried to cross on the entrance to a single track bridge. They had to take them apart to get them out.

And the twat who couldn't be arsed to reverse 10 yds to a passing place on a single lane road and tipped on its side in the ditch invisible behind the long grass as he tried to pass me on the verge before I'd even come to a stop!

Feel better now thanks!

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Re: The Rout of Civilisation

"Just think, they can now falsely direct a vehicle down a too-narrow lane, across a river without using a bridge, the wrong way down a one-way street, across fields, under bridges that are too low and all the other things that real GPS does to vehicles."

If a driver is so thick they don't think twice before driving into a river or across a field then they should have their license revoked. Assuming they survive.

Re shipping - there was an effective system called Loran that used fixed radio masts and triangulation to piinpoint a ships position. But with the usual far sightedness inherent amonst politicians and others in power, instead of being kept as a GPS backup it was decommisioned.

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Re: The Rout of Civilisation

Seen a sign on one road: "Lorry drivers - your GPS is wrong". One mile later I came to a point that was quite tight for my normal sized passenger car, and no way to turn, only reverse.

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Terminator

Re: The Rout of Civilisation

This sign appeared in Cornwall when Sat Navs were directing vehicles onto a dual carriageway the wrong way along the exit slip road. The "temporary" sign remains in place some five years later!

A30 Ignore Sat Nav sign

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Re: The Rout of Civilisation

"there was an effective system called Loran that used fixed radio masts and triangulation to piinpoint a ships position."

Actually it had some interesting problems with beam refraction around headlands and other foibles which could result in you calculating your position to be as much as 20 miles from your real location.

Nonetheless it's making a comeback.

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Luckily

I only use use GPS when sailing and from force of habit check it regularly against old fashioned methods (compass, sextant occasionally and when heading for land that shouldn't be there, I usually stop, land is bad for boats).

If I'm driving anywhere, I read a map a couple of times, memorise it and go there.

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Re: Luckily

Good man!

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Re: Luckily

"If I'm driving anywhere, I read a map a couple of times, memorise it and go there."

And how do you route round congestion and closures?

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Coat

Re: Luckily

The same way I've done it for years: follow the diversion signs for the closures and listen to local radio for traffic updates.

I notice (casual anecdotal observation) that with GPS system users, there tends to be a disconnect between location and route for the driver; they're quite happy to follow the instructions without knowing where they actually are until 'you have reached your destination'. That situational unawareness seems to make it, um, interesting for many drivers when the road the GPS wants them to use is unavailable for whatever reason; the concept of looking at the road signs seems to have passed them by, possibly because they no longer have a spatial sense of where places are in relation to each other.

The one with the A-Z and the Bartholomew in the pocket, please: it might rain. -->

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Re: Luckily

There is no doubt that when there is congestion ahead on a planned route, GPS routing is gloriously good for getting round it. It can be used very well together with road signs to produce an infinitely better result than boy scouting about the place.

However, despite having a wonderful fitted bathroom at home, I'm the one with a tin bath in the living room filled with 20 kettles of water heated on on the coal fire. Because these modern power-shower things are not for proper people like me. They are for inferior types that rely on pre-heated hot water. Idiots.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Luckily

Having used several GPS systems from Smart-phone apps to dedicated products, I remain unconvinced that overall they save much time in avoiding traffic. Sometimes it works well and sometimes not so well.....

Obviously no-one could ever go anywhere before GPS without a local guide and we all spent our lives in endless congestion which we were unable to avoid......

I've got nothing against technology, after all it's the field I work in but personally I prefer to take a look at the map before I start, get an idea of where I'm going and what's around the route so I can double check the advice coming from my Sat Nav, if I have to use one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Luckily

Maps? Pah! I navigate purely by following the path of migrating birds during the day, and the pole star at night. I

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Luckily

Listen to the radio, look at other cars and what they are doing and following the yellow diversion signs with the square or diamond in them. GPS is an aid and shouldn't be replaced by local road knowledge, looking up the map on Google Maps prior to the journey (if it's unfamiliar) and checking the Highways Agency.

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Re: Luckily

Real men navigate with a lode stone, feldspar crystal and a cross staff.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Luckily

"look at other cars and what they are doing"

Ah, good to see the Dirk Gently school of navigation is still going strong...

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Re: Luckily

It can be a good way around an incident. Recently skipped 40 minutes of stationary traffic by use of a side-road and a car-park with an exit onto that road and the road I wanted to get onto by following some locals. Turns out there had been a smash across the junction that I avoided.

I typically learn my route beforehand. The GPS is a backup to my brain and a convenient way to see traffic levels, plus there is always an atlas at hand in the car as the next fallback.

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Re: Luckily

AC i like your style, my method of navigation is to work out what direction the place i want to be is from where I am, and then drive down roads that look like they go in that direction until I see some signs for where I want to be and follow them.

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Re: Luckily

My brother was sailing off the Brazilian coast when he got knocked don and turned round by a tropical squall, needless to say the knock down damaged his GPS antenna, swept his sextant overboard and for a few moments, convinced him thathis compass was buggered. The squall turned him 180 degrees in a second, with no GPS and no sexant he used a protractor stuck to piece of wood and his compass to cross the Atlantic backto Europe. Any blue water skipper could do that because at sea you don't rely entirely on anythi g that can go wrong because it will.

The best thing for driving is a combination of Google maps and earth, you can see clearly any alternative routes including tracks and unfenced back gardens for detours.I hate listening to the GPS instructions as I always miss them.

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Re: Luckily

If I'm driving anywhere, I read a map a couple of times, memorise it and go there

Good luck trying to get across London using that method - unless you have a few years spare to do the Knowledge..

(And yes - my GPS[1] recently took me on a jolly through South London[2] instead of round the M25. Yes, there was traffic on the M25[3] but I'd rather be sitting on traffic there rather than trying to dodge insane cyclists and taxis in Greenwich.)

[1] Quite possibly operator error (although I'd deny that if pressed) - once you put in the destination it shows you potential routes and there is a vague possibility that I selected the wrong one. In my defense, I had just attended my mother's funeral..

[2] Which, as we civilised people from North London know, is a vast and wailing wilderness, full of subhuman denizens who grunt at eath other in a debased form of LondonSpeak.

[3] As always. And the extra two hours that it took me to get back out of London onto the M25 meant that we hit it at 16:30 rather than 14:30. On a Friday. Lucky us..

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Re: Luckily

Listen to the radio, look at other cars and what they are doing and following the yellow diversion signs

Just like every driver around you then. Welcome to traffic-jam heaven.

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Re: Luckily

cross staff

Maybe you should provide them aircon if they are that cross?

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Re: Luckily

"Real men navigate with a lode stone, feldspar crystal and a cross staff."

Real men navigate with a bulldozer. There will be a road there!

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Re: Luckily

until I see some signs for where I want to be and follow them

Which is fine, right up until you want to navigate across Birmingham..

(Even though I was born in Brumagen, we left there when I was five. So I've not had an opportunity to aquire knowledge about the various boroughs[1]. So who knows if Selley Oak is near Kings Norton? And, unlike London where the roads signs point you to not only the next borough but also to the ones beyond that[2], in Birmingham they don't appear to.)

[1] Or the delightfully idiosyncratic accent.

[2] Plus, having grown up in London, I have some idea of the layout of the various boroughs. In the proper, civilised bits anyway - I know very little about Sarf Lunnon.

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Re: Luckily

Real men navigate with a bulldozer

Or a Corps of Engineers and copious explosives.

For when you really, really don't want that mountain to be there..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Luckily

Icelandic spar for a sunstone

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Re: Luckily

"sailing off the Brazilian coast"

Why on God's green earth, having lost all proper navigation aids, would you decide to sail all the way across the Atlantic instead of returning to the coast you're allegedly still close to, if you are able to tell which way is East and which way is West at all...? Being able to do it nonetheless is nice and all, but... seriously? That's the first idea you get - let's go the long way around...?

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Re: Luckily

They have watched too much Doctor Who, so are going home, the long way around.

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Re: Luckily

Not every country is happy to have foreigners popping in on a lark. Just saying.

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Re: Luckily

However, despite having a wonderful fitted bathroom at home, I'm the one with a tin bath in the living room filled with 20 kettles of water heated on on the coal fire.

You have a house and a coal fire?

Luuxshureh!

When I were a lad all we 'ad ter live in were a shoe box on the M1. It did have SatNav, mind.

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Spoofing GPS is only optional

Drivers can already do so much wrong without spoofing...

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Mushroom

Re: Spoofing GPS is only optional

You don't need spoofing, all you need is to own a Ford!

We found out that once you buy the car (Ford focus TDi) they disown the GPS (and AV system) and will refuse to update the GPS maps when you get it serviced.

It is possible to $ buy a one off update from a 3rd party but next year $$$ again.

For the same cost of a single update you can buy a GPS unit with lifetime updates. Bastards (ford that is).

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Re: Spoofing GPS is only optional

We found out that once you buy the car (Ford focus TDi) they disown the GPS (and AV system) and will refuse to update the GPS maps when you get it serviced.

It's not just Ford, Nissan want nearly £200 for an SD card with an update.

However, I've found that if you just don't bother updating it makes zero difference.

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Facepalm

Re: Spoofing GPS is only optional

With no assistance whatsoever from GPS, my friend's girlfriend drove into the Tamar River because, the last time, there was a ferry there.

Torpoint Ferry

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Facepalm

maps

My missus seems unable to use a map - even when provided with a magic map that has a U-R-HERE dot on it and is zoom in and outable!

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Re: Spoofing GPS is only optional

I see the problem--she did not zoom in far enough:

https://www.google.com/maps/@50.3749169,-4.1948557,127a,35y,75.56h,45t/data=!3m1!1e3

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Re: Spoofing GPS is only optional

Having ventured beyond my normal sandpit my two TomToms enjoyed telling me I was driving across fields and one even asked me to update it. So on arriving safely at a friends house and discovering he had a windows pc I attempted to update them only to discover they couldn't be updated, or at least not by me thought I was welcome to spend a bloody fortune on a new one.

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Coat

Re: Spoofing GPS is only optional

Two TomToms, plus buying a new one = TomTom TomTom TomTom. Obviously they are trying to get you to seven Toms, Tom 7.

I'll get my coat, it's the one with the sound of tom-tom drums coming from the pocket.

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Why assume spoofing is bad?

The factory GPS system in my wife's car is so obtuse and user antagonistic that it's hard to believe GPS spoofing could make it worse. My wife and daughter have dubbed the pleasant female voice (its best feature) "Miss Guided".

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Re: Why assume spoofing is bad?

heh- I have a tendancy to call mine 'Betty' (after 'Bi%#hing Betty', which is US pilot and aircrew slang for the voices used in aircraft warning systems...)

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Chilling

Climate change science has already proved that most people would rather believe a computer than the evidence of their senses..

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Re: Chilling

Climate change science has already proved that most people can't distinguish opinion and expertise.

Now how did this relate to GPS hacking again?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Chilling

"most people would rather believe a computer"

I absolutely hate following a gps - it only tells you the next move! I want to know what the whole plan is. I'm only allowed to do the driving , and therefore cant fck about with maps , elctric or atherwise :(

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All roads lead to the pub (or not)...

I'm sure that our friendly BOFH will have something like this for miscreants he encounters.

Remote...typey...typey...crash!

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Trollface

Re: All roads lead to the pub (or not)...

No need, the PFY's already done it with the CEO's self-driving British Racing Green Lotus, not sure which episode though.

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Re: All roads lead to the pub (or not)...

self-driving British Racing Green Lotus

I know that the build quality was a bit iffy but I didn't think you could describe a Lotus[1] as 'self driving'. 'Proceeding in an average direction'[2] maybe..

[1] Lots Of Trouble, Usually Serious

[2] If one takes into account all the bits that drop off. They should be fitted with a dragnet to catch all the bits - although the dragnet itself would probably partially disconnect, wrap itself around a handy lamp-post and guide the car into a firey, doom-filled collision with a handy wall.

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Re: All roads lead to the pub (or not)...

"I didn't think you could describe a Lotus[1] as 'self driving'"

"although the dragnet itself would probably partially disconnect, wrap itself around a handy lamp-post and guide the car into a firey, doom-filled collision with a handy wall."

That sounds like 'self driving' to me.

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More ways to spot the spoof

- Have the system track additional satellites, compare to the Galileo, Glonass, and BaiDu systems.

- Analyse signal strength, jitter, and noise of signals. That device in the trunk will become much more expensive if it has to properly simulate a GPS satellite including atmospheric ally induced noise.

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Thank God!

At least I'll have an excuse now - despite having GPS.

(i.e. https://tinyurl.com/yco9zkyv )

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