Todd Humphreys’s hacked drone
After news broke that two security researchers, Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller, hacked into the systems of moving cars with just a laptop, gaining the ability to jerk seatbelts, turn wheels, and kill breaks, the vulnerability of modern devices is hard to ignore.
At TEDxAustin last year, researcher Todd Humphreys spoke of such attacks, explaining how one could easily hack a litany of items with a simple “GPS spoofer.” A GPS spoofer is a device designed to mimic GPS signals that, Todd says in his talk, could create opportunities to run a ship off course, redirect an airplane, even manipulate the measure of time used by the New York Stock Exchange.
In fact, just last June, Todd’s research group at the Radionavigation Laboratory at the University of Texas “successfully hijacked a civilian drone at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico during a test organized by the Department of Homeland Security,” as reported by Wired.
"The key, said Todd in his TEDxAustin talk, "is that civil GPS signals are completely open. They have no encryption. They have no authentication. They’re wide open, vulnerable to a kind of spoofing attack…
As usual, what we see just beyond the horizon is full of promise and peril.”
Now Todd’s group is making waves for having hacked a ship’s navigation system with just “a laptop, a small antenna and an electronic GPS ‘spoofer’.”
With this hack, says Todd, a ship could be manipulated to go off course, allowing hackers to fool captains and crews into believing their ship is somewhere it isn’t, even when the compass reads the right heading.
“People need to know this kind of thing is possible,” he told Fox News.
Below, watch Todd’s talk in full and read more about his work on the TED Blog:
(Photo: Wired and Todd Humphreys)