GPS Down: Lost is Space. Time. And Money

GPS Down: Lost is Space. Time. And Money

Developed by the military, GPS is everywhere. We depend on it for military, civilian and commercial tracking of cargo ships, cars, trains, orbiting satellites of all stripes, and items easily geo-tagged with a trackable chip.

A moving lattice of 31 GPS satellites orbit the earth at about 12.000 miles such that at any one time, something like Google Maps can read your position by 6 or more satellites to triangulate your position, speed and direction of travel. Unless…

What was vastly complex, expensive and rare–jamming or spoofing GPS signals–today is simple, cheap and common. And increasingly dangerous to a world become dependent on precise knowledge of the location of things.

Fooling GPS is now so simple one authority stated that “The snotty kid in the bedroom is now probably our worst nightmare.” The story is told of a priest who used a jammer in his church because he was tired of cell phone use during his sermon–a trivial use.

However, a single single jammer can disrupt GPS accuracy for up to 5 miles. Fleet tracking, cargo shipments, and air traffic control are increasingly at risk of disruption.

This NBC article at the lnk below  is a sobering reminder of the fragile house of cards we live in. We’d have sufficient challenges if everyone worked for the common good. Everybody doesn’t.

And coincidentally this morning, DELTA is down, system-wide. No mention has been made so far to explain why their global computer network is stranding passengers around the globe. But my speculation is that they’ve been hacked. Maybe a proof-of-concept for bigger fish down the road?

It’s a shame that all people who are up to no good are not also stupid.

GPS Under Attack as Crooks, Rogue Workers Wage Electronic War

Delta System Outage Triggers Delays Worldwide – NBC News

About

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

3 Comments on “GPS Down: Lost is Space. Time. And Money

  1. Duh. Can you imagine a global system set up in such a way that a power outage (how rare is that?) would kick the whole network offline for many hours? Then again, if they are being held hostage by someone wanting ransom money, they aren’t going to make that public in the short run. Will be interesting to follow, first the official story, then months or years later, the full version.

  2. Grim prognosis for our future. Although I seem to live my life unaware of all the activity going on above me (nasty and otherwise). GPS systems and drones seem like such a good idea–they could be put to use in so many ways that would benefit us. But on the other hand, we managed just fine without them!

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