Spotlight

A yearlong study by security experts with the Washington-based think tank C4ADS conducted by identified a pattern in which GPS devices near Putin and his entourage suddenly gave incorrect readings. The researchers also identified five buildings associated with the Kremlin that appeared to employ the technique on a rolling basis. The researchers theorize that one reason "spoofing" is deployed is to protect Putin and other Russian officials from attacks or surveillance by drones that rely on GPS.

 

 

However, there's a drawback to creating a GPS bubble around a world leader, said Todd Humphreys, an engineering professor at the University of Texas at Austin, who was involved with the study. It also makes it easier to keep track of Putin. "What's ironic is if you look at these patterns, and if you coordinate it with the movements of the leader of Russia, it appears you have a Putin detector," Humphreys said. In other words, if you detect spoofing, there's a good chance Putin may be nearby. 

 

Read the full articles featuring Dr. Humphreys on CBS News and Foreign Policy. In addition, check out this segment from the Daily Show with Trevor Noah and an interactive version of the report, "Above Us Only Stars."

During Brexit negotiations, the EU said the UK cannot retain full access to its Galileo satellite program after Brexit. In November, the UK government officially announced it would be pulling out of the system to concentrate on scoping an alternative system.

 

"Going it alone" could permit the UK to design a system built to the specifications of just one country without needing to meet the requirements imposed by all 28 EU member states. Starting your own global system “is not something you decide to give a shot to see how it goes. It’s a perpetual commitment,” Dr. Humphreys said. “In the US, it costs up to a billion dollars just to maintain our system every year.”

 

The UK Space Agency, now tendering a series of key contracts, has been given £92 million to conduct a feasibility study. The government expects it will take 18 months for this initial assessment. While opinions vary on the timetable for arriving at a fully-fledged system, Dr. Humphreys suggests that “if the UK had a clear mission and the funding, they could field a system in five years.”

 

Read the full article featuring Dr. Humphreys.

Drones have become more present and accessible in the last couple of years. Their increasing presence now poses as a security challenge for authorities worldwide. These drone threats include everything from the security of heads of state to unauthorized surveillance.

 

Defense strategies are being implemented to intercept drones being used in these ways. But they may not be enough. "It is very difficult to hit a drone that is coming at high speed, at 100 km/h (70 mph), and it's not hard to build drones that do that," Humphreys said." Even if you could hit one drone that came in at high speed, what if five or 10 of them attacked you all at once?"

 

Read the full article featuring Dr. Humphreys.

Drones are increasingly becoming a security hazard in many ways. These include the weaponization of drones, targeting of commercial flights, and even attacks on heads of state. Current countermeasures include jamming the signal between the drone and the user, or even shooting the drone, but these have their own limitations and legal problems.

 

“[One] could quite easily modify these drones so that they go into an autonomous mode after some point, and carry out their mission without any regard for the command coming from the ground,” Dr. Humphreys says. “If that’s the case, then you can’t simply ward off these drones by jamming.”

 

Perhaps new legislation will help improve these defensive measures.

 

Read the full article featuring Dr. Humphreys.

Once started as a military project, GPS has found its way into the pockets of people worldwide, but it isn’t just used for maps. In fact, it is a very precise clock for computers around the Earth. When the GPS network fell apart for hours in 2016, it showed the network’s vulnerability to interference from pigeon poop on cell towers to GPS spoofing.

 

Such methods “would certainly work against Ubers, Waymo’s self-driving cars, delivery drones from Amazon,” and more, says Todd Humphreys, an aerospace engineering professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

 

Because GPS is so pervasive in today’s technology and economy, it needs to either be better protected or less relied upon. 

 

Read the full article featuring Dr. Humphreys.

More Articles...