Luxury yacht 'hijacked' by researchers off Italian coast

University team spoofs GPS, throws $80-million ship off course

Luxury yacht 'hijacked' by researchers off Italian coast

Rome, July 30 - Researchers at the University of Texas were able to hijack an $80-million yacht off the coast of Italy by using the world's first openly acknowledged GPS spoofing device, according to the school. Using false GPS signals to gain control of a the White Rose of Drachs's navigation devices, researchers last month coerced the 213-foot yacht off its course in an experiment to measure the difficulty of carrying out a so-called spoofing attack at sea. "With 90 percent of the world's freight moving across the seas and a great deal of the world's human transportation going across the skies, we have to gain a better understanding of the broader implications of GPS spoofing," said Professor Todd Humphreys of the Department of Aerospace Engineering who led the team. "I didn't know, until we performed this experiment, just how possible it is to spoof a marine vessel and how difficult it is to detect this attack." In international waters 30 miles off the coast of Puglia, graduate students on the ship's upper deck transmitted faint GPS signals from their briefcase-size device towards the ship's antennas, eventually obtaining control of the navigation system and throwing the ship hundreds of meters off course. (photo: archive picture of yacht)

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