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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  1. Busby

    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.

    1. LarsG

      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'.

      1. TimePilot84

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

  2. Yet Another Commentard

    As Bob Marley would have said:

    "wi jammin'"

  3. jaywin

    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?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. Blain Hamon
      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.

    3. Phil O'Sophical 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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

      2. Tom 13

        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.

    4. Barrie Shepherd

      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.

      1. jaywin

        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.

        1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

          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.

    5. xj25vm

      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!

      1. Euripides Pants Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: The new battlefield...

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

  4. BongoJoe
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. tony2heads
        Joke

        Re: Crumbs

        But Elliot Carver would be pissed off at paying so much

    2. Phil O'Sophical 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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Crumbs

        "Solve that problem..."

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

      2. Tom 13
        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.

      3. veeguy
        Gimp

        Re: Crumbs

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

    3. Steven Roper

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

    4. Wize

      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.

    5. Richard Taylor 2 Silver 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.....

    6. Velv Silver badge

      Re: Crumbs

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

    7. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. SYNTAX__ERROR

        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.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Gary B.

      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).

      1. TheUglyAmerican

        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.

    2. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
      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.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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).

  6. Herby

    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!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward 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 .

    3. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge
      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.

      1. Don Jefe

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

    4. dennis1234567890987654321

      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.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: Interfering devices...

        "...could care less..."

  7. dssf

    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.

  8. Don Jefe
    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.

  9. westlake

    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.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    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

    1. Don Jefe

      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.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Quxy
      Facepalm

      "Dangerous and antisocial technology"

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

    3. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

    4. Oninoshiko
      Paris Hilton

      Re: If you ask me

      "about using such a dangerous"

      Oh my god, I've been killed with a GPS JAMMER!

    5. silent_count

      Re: If you ask me

      @AC <20:46/12-Aug-2013>

      Surely you must see the irony in posting anonymously to complain that other people should not be allowed to maintain their anonymity.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Poor setup if jammable that easily

    Surely the airport/planes can have an antenna that only picks up signals from above.

    Fortunately this was 'accidental' & quickly corrected.

    Really it needs to be able to cope with intentional jamming if there is any safety issue.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Poor setup if jammable that easily

      > Surely the airport/planes can have an antenna that only picks up signals from above.

      Just hang on there while I rewrite the laws of physics.

  12. Graham Marsden
    Big Brother

    "such systems are unpopular with the slackers"

    Ah, a variant on the "if you have nothing to hide..." argument, methinks.

    After all, you shouldn't object to your employer tracking your every move and every stop to ensure that they're getting the maximum possible amount of work out of you (preferably for the minimum possible amount of money) should you?

    1. Tim Bates

      Re: "such systems are unpopular with the slackers"

      "After all, you shouldn't object to your employer tracking your every move and every stop to ensure that they're getting the maximum possible amount of work out of you"

      Arsehole managers/employers will be arseholes... GPS tracking is just another tool in their kit, not the entire basis of their arseholery.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too Bad

    Too bad they didn't sustain the $32K fine.

  14. cowardly plumber

    The only security breach that I can see in this article is the ability to park your vehicle next to the "ground station" for the system ? What kind of system is this if that's the case ? Might as well plan on replacing that ground station as people who park at airports are not really known for responsible parking skills and it would have been an accidental target over and over again anyway.

    The only thing that is of import as far as the jammer itself goes is how far it's interference actually extends.

    If its anything like a Linear for CD radio then it would be one hell of a power drain and would not be on long in a parked and un-attended vehicle

    That means that he was parked way to close to the "ground station" and whomever designed the layout ought to be fired

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ cowardly plumbers and raving angry loonies

      You must have missed the part in the article when it says that this was an experiment. This equipment is in no way part of a critical or even operational part of the airport.

  15. raving angry loony

    Of course, nobody seems to be looking at the fact that a $100 device can cause havoc with a non-hardened stupidly designed system used for a critical task - landing an aircraft. The person responsible for designing the system should be in jail, not the person who showed just how poorly designed it was.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      FAIL

      And how precisely would you redesign it? Do you have any clue how radio works?

      Think about designing a system that would allow a couple of mice to have a conversation across a sports bar just after a last-minute score in the superbowl.

      > stupidly designed system used for a critical task - landing an aircraft.

      It's a very well-designed system that would never be used, alone, for landing an aircraft.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Of course, nobody seems to be looking at the fact that a $100 device can cause havoc with a non-hardened stupidly designed system used for a critical task - landing an aircraft

      Should I tell you how ILS works? :-)

  16. Jim 59

    Ploddledygook 2.0

    "We caution Mr. Bojczak and other potential violators that we will continually reevaluate this approach and may pursue alternative or more aggressive sanctions should the approach prove ineffective in deterring the unlawful operation of signal jammers".

    "for example, as a companion to a proposed monetary forfeiture, we could also refer such matters to the U.S. Department of Justice for further consideration under the criminal statutes.

    ie. the punishments are subject to change and may include criminal prosecution.

  17. Mike Rodgers

    They ought to be thanking the guy - for showing just how fallible their new system is! I mean, you're going to land planes with this "new" system, and a simple $100 jammer can totally screw it up??

  18. despairing citizen

    and all those well spent UK and US Defence Millions

    Red Neck proves $100 device with 12v battery beats GPS signals, as used in all those "precision" GPS muntions that the UK MOD and US DOD have been buying.

    I mean it's not like jamming radio guided bombing was something they could have predicted, given that 7 decades ago the RAF buggered up the german radio guided bombing system, the day after they first used it, and the germans where using big transmitters in france to do it, not that weak GPS signals from space.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: and all those well spent UK and US Defence Millions

      You really think the military don't know about GPS jammers? Not sure about the US, but last year in Scotland the UK forces went to some effort warning trawler skippers that they wouldn't be able to use GPS in a defined area for the duration of a military exercise. They weren't worried about their own kit, just didn't want confused fishermen denting their nice grey paintwork.

      1. despairing citizen

        Re: and all those well spent UK and US Defence Millions

        The military brass tends to have selective memory, i.e we know our ECM systems on an excerise will screw the fishermen's GPS system....

        ...we just seem to forget that when it comes to buying guidance systems, because obviously any enemy will of course be stupid and have no access to technology that can be bought at maplin (or local equivlent)

        The GPS adapters go for around $27000 per bomb, so roughly quater mil per aircraft per mission.

        But they work really well on training ranges, when showing the minister and press how accurate your bombing is.

        Bottom line is that if it relies on an emission for targeting, it can be spoofed or jammed, the trick is to use something that is really difficult for the other side to screw with. GPS is not that technology.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fined a years wages for co-operating.

    How long before someone in this situation realizes that they're going to get a $30K fine and decides to resist?

    Seriously. Do you think a $30K fine is more of a deterrent than a $3K fine to a guy who drives a truck for a living?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Turn About

    As long as the TSA are illegally invading our personal spaces, it's only fair that the people invade theirs.

    I say good for him, and everybody should do that.

  21. darklord

    Uhmm So a jammer jams said frequency which is restricted. So why are the GPS transmitters being fitted operating on this frequency range. surely that would have the same effect.as the jammer

    in the CBers used burners etc which played havoc with TV And radios etc. I used to play in this field and worked in it twenty odd yrs ago,

    Sounds iffy to me

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