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 …

  1. TheProf
    Go

    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!

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: The Rout of Civilisation

      The massacre of mankind.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      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!

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        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.

        1. paulf Silver badge
          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

    3. boltar Silver badge

      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.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        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.

  2. Chris G Silver badge

    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.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Luckily

      Good man!

    2. John H Woods Silver badge

      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?

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
        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. -->

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

          2. adam 40

            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.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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...

          1. Baldrickk Silver badge

            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.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          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.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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

      1. herman Silver badge

        Re: Luckily

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

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          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.

          1. DropBear Silver badge

            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...?

            1. onefang Silver badge

              Re: Luckily

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

            2. Claptrap314 Bronze badge

              Re: Luckily

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

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Luckily

          cross staff

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

        3. Christoph Silver badge

          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!

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            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..

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Luckily

          Icelandic spar for a sunstone

      2. Robin Bradshaw

        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.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          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.

    4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      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..

  3. MiguelC Silver badge

    Spoofing GPS is only optional

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

    1. Dagg
      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).

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        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.

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        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.

        1. onefang Silver badge
          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.

    2. Symon Silver badge
      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

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
        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!

      2. Claptrap314 Bronze badge

        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

  4. vtcodger Silver badge

    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".

    1. J. Cook Bronze badge

      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...)

  5. itzman
    Coat

    Chilling

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

    1. Schultz

      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?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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 :(

  6. Herby Silver badge

    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!

    1. Waseem Alkurdi
      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.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        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.

        1. onefang Silver badge

          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.

  7. Schultz

    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.

  8. Chas E. Erath

    Thank God!

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

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

  9. DougS Silver badge

    You could get around this with dead reckoning

    Doesn't need to be super accurate, just enough that you can't suddenly move miles away from your previous location. I suppose an attack that slowly and subtly changed your "location" would still be possible if it stayed below the detection threshold of the dead reckoning hardware, but that would require an attacker be pretty close for quite a long time - increasing the chance of detection.

    Probably would also help if cars used somewhat directional antennas that only looked up (or rather, not horizontally) While technically GPS satellites can be used anywhere above the horizon, in practice its designed so you don't need the ones that are very low on the horizon so throwing out results that are less than 10* above it should be fine. Then you'd just need to worry about attackers following you in a drone...

  10. MNGrrrl

    Easy solution

    Modern cell towers use beam forming. There are numerous apps already out there which can navigate by non-GPS means, usually to an accuracy within 20 meters. It's enough to say what street the device is on, just not which building. This is *not* difficult to do. accelerometers are indeed not reliable *unless calibrated*. The very same sensors in cell phones are used in inertial guidance systems on planes. They're not accurate enough to be used for reduced separation approaches but they'll get a plane lined up on the ILS even if GPS is completely out from takeoff to approach 700 miles away. A car won't have the same accuracy due to sudden high g-forces from vibration (like driving over a pothole), but combined with trilateralization it will be accurate enough to navigate the roadways and distinguish between parallel roads.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Easy solution

      A car won't have the same accuracy due to sudden high g-forces from vibration (like driving over a pothole)

      Not done much flying in smaller aircraft in rougher weather then ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Easy solution

      Fairly sure they are not the 'very same sensors' - INS sensors are at least 2 or 3 orders of magnitude better than your phone. There was a nice write up of a couple of guys trying INS on a phone They had drift of several metres a minute with the device stationary on a desk, so better hope that ILS approach you need to hit to 20 metres is no more than about 5 metres away.

    3. theModge

      Re: Easy solution

      With good quality sensors (i.e. better than is in a phone) it's possible to be really very accurate with a combination of accelerometers and gyroscopes. ~1m accuracy in the applications for which I've seen them used.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Easy solution

        My vehicle already uses wheel rotations and steering wheel angles to work out where it is along with the GPS signal. It increases the accuracy of the system to the point where I found I could drive (albeit it incredibly slowly) using the turn countdown indicator at night in a sudden fog so thick that you could only see a car length ahead. It was enough to get me onto a side road where I knew I could find a space to park up until the fog thinned a bit a couple of hours later.

  11. Haku
    Trollface

    Thanks for the tip off.

    I'll be sure to make & use one when I 'borrow' vehicles with GPS trackers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thanks for the tip off.

      Meh, overkill. A cheap Chinese GPS jammer will achieve much the same for a tenth of the cost.

      1. Haku

        Re: Thanks for the tip off.

        A GPS jammer just makes it 'disappear', a GPS spoofer could send them on a wild goose chase round the M25 on a loop.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Thanks for the tip off.

          wild goose chase round the M25 on a loop

          Or, more accurately, a slightly-annoyed-duck stop-and-start round the M25..

          (Anyone else remember the old days when people could use the M25 for illegal races to circumnavigate London? I suspect they'd be lucky to get 5 miles now..)

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Thanks for the tip off.

        A cheap Chinese GPS jammer will..

        ... end you up in $LOCAL_PRISON if you get caught..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thanks for the tip off.

      Handy if you have one of those insurance black box trackers too - just set it to show you never exceeding speed limits and driving like a saint.

  12. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    I thought this was another Microsoft story...

    My screen reader said "sad nav" as if it were "SatNad" (the popular euphamism for Microsoft's big cheese) & all I could think was "MS renders something else FUBAR, so what else is new?" Then I RTFA & realized my error in parsing something, forced a character step through the title, & found out where I went wrong. Still, dodgy receivers, obscenely easily hacked devices able to be spoofed with an R'Pi, & user's lives being given ulcers... That sounds like about right. =-J

  13. ida71u

    Self Drive Cars ! Yeah Right :(

    So GPS jamming can be built for (or possibly even with) Peanuts ! Now you can have GPS diversion control. And they want to introduce self driving cars that rely on GPS for location info & routing, even if its not strictly necessary for it to move ! I can see the sh!ts & giggles coming that sitting on a city street corner with either a jammer or a diverter will cause for any teenage miscreant that wants a bit of fun while watching the hapless autonomous vehicles driving in circles, with a passenger that has no control. Priceless :)

  14. Giovani Tapini

    To be honest

    My experience of sat nav's is that they do this all by themselves from time to time, without all that tedious mucking about with Pi's.

    I have been told I am driving in Brussels while driving in the UK countryside. I have seen it stall (usually just before a complex junction) and resurface just in time to tell you to do a U turn. In some cases almost maliciously sending me down a road only to come back past it later.

    Anyone who trusts their computer blindly will be the one parked on the railway track...

    1. Christoph Silver badge

      Re: To be honest

      A friend woke up one morning to find that according to his satnav his house was doing several hundred miles an hour across the North Sea. Though that was the morning after the 9/11 attack so probably intentional scrambling.

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: To be honest

      I have been told I am driving in Brussels while driving in the UK countryside

      Manchester City Centre has some interesting GPS blackspots (or did 5 years ago) - one of which caused my GPS to insist that I was suddenly in Leeds..

  15. Spanners Silver badge
    Pint

    James Bond had one of these

    In "Tomorrow Never Dies", a dodgy newspaper owner uses one of these things. That character was a mixture of the late "Sir Bob" and some dodgy Australian dude.

    Sir Bob is no longer around but we need to make sure that the other guy never lays his hands on one of tese things!

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: James Bond had one of these

      It did give us Teri Hatcher as a Bond girl, so, y'know, swings and roundabouts.

  16. Thoguht Silver badge

    Built-in car satnav systems only use GPS as a sanity check, they mainly use the inputs from the road wheels and electronic compass.

    My old car had persistent problems with water getting into the antenna assembly and rusting things up, so I was completely without GPS signal on several occasions. Did it make any difference? None at all if you were in a city because every time you turn the system is able to recalibrate your position.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Are you sure? I can't find any references to this actually happening? I think most car sat navs are basically just sat navs - the clever bit is the 'sanity check' inherent in the built in software and maps that keeps you locked to roads.

      1. Baldrickk Silver badge

        I don't know about "Mainly" but our Discovery 3 falls back on inertial guidance when it loses GPS.

        It's accurate enough to show your rough position while in a tunnel, or get you past a junction in a black spot, but the accuracy degrades pretty quickly beyond that.

        It fixes itself once it starts getting updates from GPS again.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I bet it doesn't use INS - I think it probably just uses an 'if road = tunnel then {assume I'm moving at the same speed along the road I was on when I lost sat nav signal}" function

          1. onefang Silver badge

            "'if road = tunnel then {assume I'm moving at the same speed along the road I was on when I lost sat nav signal}"

            Which wont work too well in the labyrinth of roads under the city centre where I live.

  17. Eclectic Man
    FAIL

    Knowing where you are is not the same as not being lost

    I worked for a large company in a building next to the M3 motorway in Hampshire, England. We had visitors who would drive there for meetings, and we always told them NOT to use SatNav but to follow the map we sent them. Otherwise they would get the message "You have reached your destination" as they drove past the site on the M3, to much consternation on their part. Frankly it should have been in a Mr. Bean film. It usually took them another half hour to negotiate the minor roads from the next motorway exit, taking directions by phone.

  18. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge

    Cardiff

    I picked up a hire car at Cardiff airport at night and wanted to go west. I had imagined that I would be on the motorway pretty soon but it was not to be. The SatNav took me down single track lanes and I'm sure at one point I went through a farmyard! However it got me to my destination OK.

    P.S. Going west on the M4 near Cardiff there's a big sign saying "Cardiff International Airport".

    Going east there's a sign with an aeroplane symbol and "Penarth". Thinking that this was a tiny aerodrome meant that I overshot the airport by about 10 miles and was back at Cardiff. WTF is that about?

    1. herman Silver badge

      Re: Cardiff

      Penarth is Welsh for Cardiff International Airport, didn't you know?

      1. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge

        Re: Cardiff

        I bow to your superior knowledge <insert funny emoticon here>.

  19. Andrew Moore Silver badge

    Not new...

    It's not new- I had something like this 15-20 years ago to test GPS signals back when you had to use a special almanac to work out what time of the day you could use your GPS receiver.

  20. Wingtech

    GPS - Not in Rural Areas

    Here in Cornwall it is the non-locals using GPS who end up asking the way.

    Our Postcode is pretty large and has several farms and a Solar Farm in it. The trouble is you can't reach the solar farm from the centre of the PostCode. Since that is mostly trucks, and even articulated lorries, on occasion, it causes much humour seeing them trying to reverse up single-track roads with high banks. I found a driver outside once with his artic. He had clipped a tree down the lane and got it stuck horizontally between cab and trailer. It stuck out 1 metre either side. For much of the last 500 yards he had had 50 cm clearance. What a mess. He was in tears!

    Part of the problem is that even transport firms are not equipping lorries with satnavs which know about such issues. Another is the relatively coarse nature of the Postcode system in the countryside. I wonder which comany might be the first to licence the 3-word navigation system. (https://what3words.com/) Different codes for front and side gate, for example.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: GPS - Not in Rural Areas

      You can get specialist HGV specific satnavs / routing systems - not sure how good they are as I do not drive a lorry

  21. Richard Gadsden

    So, can I set up a more powerful version of this and reroute all the traffic down a different street so I can get a quiet night's sleep?

  22. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Well actually that's trivial to detect

    Such a spoofer simulates all satellites with one antenna. So all receiving antennas will get the same signal (but delayed by different amounts).

    So if you use multiple receivers at the corners of your car, you can either compare the time the receivers believe (should be different when spoofed) or you can simply compare the position the receivers report (should be the same when spoofed).

    Of course simple plug in navaids don't have that possibility. For vehicles like planes it should however be utterly trivial to detect spoofing.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trivial = Expensive

    I am sure that threats like this are 'trivial' to defeat - the problem is that you now have 4 sat nav receivers, and they have to be linked (so now we have a new vector for introducing bugs). Meanwhile the 'baddies' will have moved on, found something else - (I suggest a constellation of 4 drones in formation 'simulating' a real sat nav constellation - done right I think that could be made indistinguishable from reality, as they could drift across the sky in appropriate spots on a line of sight between target vehicle and the real satellite. You could have another set of drones spoofing the cell phone towers. Having watched several realistic documentaries about such impossible missions, all that you need is a bright 16 year old hacker, a handful of off the shelf hardware, sticky back plastic and a pizza.

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: Trivial = Expensive

      Well the "16 year old hacker" is not the problem here, those understand ethics and therefore won't do any intentional harm.

      BTW using drones for this makes the effort explode. Not only would you need n-times as many transmitters, you'd also need drones which would have to be fairly far away from the receiver, moving at potentially impossible speeds, transmitting at powers which would get noticed.

  24. Richard Pennington 1

    I don't use SatNavs ...

    I am from a generation which learned how to use (and memorise) maps. I do not use (or possess) a SatNav. That said ...

    I live near Farnborough, and it is now Airshow season. The local council has reconfigured the local roads and put up signs "TURN SATNAV OFF", because the roads don't go where (or in the direction) SatNavs think they do.

    In a past life, I was on a project in the Netherlands, and we regularly used to take a taxi from our hotel to the project office. Once the taxi driver took a wrong turn, and his SatNav insisted that he correct the mistake ... by turning right into the local canal.

    For the same employer, but a different location, I had occasion to take a taxi from central Paris to a factory in one of the less salubrious arrondissements. The factory address did not appear on the taxi SatNav, so I had to instruct the driver to go to another address nearby in the same street, and then follow my verbal directions to the factory.

  25. jon honeyball
    Happy

    GPS transmission kit has been available for not too much money for quite a while

    The LabSat kit from RaceLogic is excellent. I have several of these boxes here at my lab. Battery powered too, so you could drive around with it transmitting that you are in the middle of Milan at 3.25pm last Thursday doing 40kph down a particular street.

    Not that I'd ever do that when stuck in traffic, cos it would be bad and wrong.

    (interesting to note that iPhones and cell-enabled ipads take their date/time from GPS, not from cell network or IP clocks)

    https://www.labsat.co.uk/index.php/en/

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't need a gadget to confuse my GPS..

    .. I have a Mercedes.

    Bought brand new, the map that came with it (which you can only get upgraded if you pay even more money) was of the same age as the rest of the in-car tech: at least 2 years old (I'm being polite here, I was actually surprised the documentation didn't come on parchment).

    In some places it thinks I'n in a meadow, because roads have appeared since. Roundabouts make random occurrences, and its traffic jam detection system is so good that it will give an immediate heads up - if you're in it.

    I also have a phone with the TomTom app, which is marginally better at all of the above. So that's what I ended up using - and I am grateful it's a company car. I now would not buy a Merc at 50% discount unless I had someone I disliked to sell it on to.

    1. batfink

      Re: I don't need a gadget to confuse my GPS..

      It's ok AC - for only several hundred of your English Pounds each time, your local friendly Merc dealer will sell you the annual updates. Bargain!

      Or, as a cheaper option, buy a brand-new TomTom every year and throw away the old ones...

  27. onefang Silver badge

    I'm with the "I don't use GPS" crowd. I'm very good at reading maps and navigating my way around city and bush with just a quick glance at the relevant map.

    I do however regularly turn on the GPS in my smartphone, for when I use Google Daydream, coz Google insists. Daydream wont let you actually use it until you turn on the phones GPS. For those of you not up on the ins and outs of VR headsets, Google Daydream is what is known as a 3DoF headset, with a 3DoF controller (3 Degrees of Freedom). That means it knows about you rotating your head / controller, but has no clue if you move them up / down / left / right / forward / backward. Yet for some add reason, Google Daydream needs to track every single change in position of your head via GPS as you sit on your chair and rotate. Google Daydream actually claims it's using GPS to track the controller, a small BlueTooth thing with a trackpad and a few buttons. Maybe there is a GPS satellite in each end of the controller, and that's what it is tracking? Though you would think that if this is true, it could actually track position as well as rotation of the controller. I smell BS.

    Maybe Google think that when you are in VR, you need to be reminded that you are not actually on the planet Skaro battling hordes of Daleks, you are actually at home in inner city Brisbane, so it can pop up a notification that says "GPS says you are safely at home. Keep calm, and carry on blasting pretend Daleks.", at least until the Cybermen arrive.

    I also sometimes turn on GPS for those tracking style dating apps that tell you "This hottie is 0.4 kms away, perhaps you should run out the door and say G'day to her right now."

    I don't turn on GPS for any other reason. I dread the day the Cybermen use this GPS spoofing, Google Daydream, and a dating app to get me into an awful lot of trouble.

  28. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Dead Reckoning

    The better GPS chips, e.g. uBlox NEO line, have wheel pulse input pins so that the car navigation can continue even within tunnels. I have a old Mercedes that successfully noted that I took the left option in a tunnel under a harbour.

    It wouldn't be all that difficult for future chips to alert the user that the GPS signals are seemingly unreliable.

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Dead Reckoning

      Your car should always know its speed, and an iPhone has a built-in compass. Should make it quite hard to misguide you _if these were actually used_.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear Sirs,

    I am always intrigued by the number of techno-phobes who comment within your forums (normally eschewing such new fangled inventions such as smart phones, sat navs, cruise control etc.). It seems unlikely that they are browsing and responding on a computer. Would I be right that you offer a bespoke internet to parchment transcription service and can you please tell me the correct postal address for my witty interjections, should I commit ink to paper?

    Yours Sincerely,

    A.Fuddy-Dudd Esq.

  30. JohnLH

    What's supposed to be new about this?

  31. Tom -1

    I don't understand why anyone thinks that spoofing is required to get GPS to take you the wrong way. It's famous for it.

    Personally I look at Google Maps if I don't know the route and then while driving watch for signs that indicate problems. Unless I want to wander around pretty much at random and find new places (but still reading signs), which happens from time to time. I haven't yet found myself looking at a cliff or a four fathom deep water passage, but people who trust GPS have told me they hit those problems.

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