[time-nuts] "The GPS navigation is the weakest point,"

Jim Palfreyman jim77742 at gmail.com
Thu Dec 15 17:06:41 EST 2011


Fascinating.

I can picture setting up a bunch of transmitters in the hills to send out
strong GPS-like signals to mimic the real thing. I suppose you could
control those signals to fool the device it is somewhere else. That bit is
very clever - you'd have to adjust the signals taking into account current
positions of all current satellites. Smart bit of work there.

But it would also need incredible timing. Even a few ns out and it wouldn't
work. So how do you set up fantastic timing at different locations of
transmitters throughout a country. Well you've blocked the GPS - so that's
no good.

It would require local atomic clocks (good ones) at each location.

Do they have access to such things? Maybe I'm being naive.

Jim


On 16 December 2011 08:10, J. Forster <jfor at quikus.com> wrote:

> Iran hijacked US drone, claims Iranian engineer  Tells Christian Science
> Monitor that CIA's spy aircraft was 'spoofed' into landing in enemy
> territory instead of its home base in Afghanistan
> Iran guided the CIA's "lost" stealth drone to an intact landing inside
> hostile territory by exploiting a navigational weakness long-known to the
> US military, according to an Iranian engineer now working on the captured
> drone's systems inside Iran.
>
> Iranian electronic warfare specialists were able to cut off communications
> links of the American bat-wing RQ-170 Sentinel, says the engineer, who
> works for one of many Iranian military and civilian teams currently trying
> to unravel the drone’s stealth and intelligence secrets, and who could not
> be named for his safety.
>
> Using knowledge gleaned from previous downed American drones and a
> technique proudly claimed by Iranian commanders in September, the Iranian
> specialists then reconfigured the drone's GPS coordinates to make it land
> in Iran at what the drone thought was its actual home base in Afghanistan.
>
> "The GPS navigation is the weakest point," the Iranian engineer told the
> Monitor, giving the most detailed description yet published of Iran's
> "electronic ambush" of the highly classified US drone. "By putting noise
> [jamming] on the communications, you force the bird into autopilot. This is
> where the bird loses its brain."
>
> The “spoofing” technique that the Iranians used – which took into account
> precise landing altitudes, as well as latitudinal and longitudinal data –
> made the drone “land on its own where we wanted it to, without having to
> crack the remote-control signals and communications” from the US control
> center, says the engineer.
>
> The revelations about Iran's apparent electronic prowess come as the US,
> Israel, and some European nations appear to be engaged in an ever-widening
> covert war with Iran, which has seen assassinations of Iranian nuclear
> scientists, explosions at Iran's missile and industrial facilities, and the
> Stuxnet computer virus that set back Iran’s nuclear program.
>
> Now this engineer’s account of how Iran took over one of America’s most
> sophisticated drones suggests Tehran has found a way to hit back. The
> techniques were developed from reverse-engineering several less
> sophisticated American drones captured or shot down in recent years, the
> engineer says, and by taking advantage of weak, easily manipulated GPS
> signals, which calculate location and speed from multiple satellites.
> Rock Center: Iran's growing influence in
> Iraq<
> http://rockcenter.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/13/9398341-a-growing-iranian-threat-in-wake-of-us-military-withdrawal-from-iraq-this-month
> >
>
> Western military experts and a number of published papers on GPS spoofing
> indicate that the scenario described by the Iranian engineer is plausible.
>
> "Even modern combat-grade GPS [is] very susceptible” to manipulation, says
> former US Navy electronic warfare specialist Robert Densmore, adding that
> it is “certainly possible” to recalibrate the GPS on a drone so that it
> flies on a different course. “I wouldn't say it's easy, but the technology
> is there.”
>
> In 2009, Iran-backed Shiite militants in Iraq were found to have downloaded
> live, unencrypted video streams from American Predator drones with
> inexpensive, off-the-shelf software. But Iran’s apparent ability now to
> actually take control of a drone is far more significant.
>
> Iran asserted its ability to do this in September, as pressure mounted over
> its nuclear program.
>
> Gen. Moharam Gholizadeh, the deputy for electronic warfare at the air
> defense headquarters of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC),
> described to Fars News how Iran could alter the path of a GPS-guided
> missile – a tactic more easily applied to a slower-moving drone.
>
> *Downed US drone: How Iran caught the
> 'beast'*<
> http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2011/1209/Downed-US-drone-How-Iran-caught-the-beast
> >
>
> “We have a project on hand that is one step ahead of jamming, meaning
> ‘deception’ of the aggressive systems,” said Gholizadeh, such that “we can
> define our own desired information for it so the path of the missile would
> change to our desired destination.”
>
> Gholizadeh said that “all the movements of these [enemy drones]” were being
> watched, and “obstructing” their work was “always on our agenda.”
>
> That interview has since been pulled from Fars’ Persian-language website.
> And last month, the relatively young Gholizadeh died of a heart attack,
> which some Iranian news sites called suspicious – suggesting the electronic
> warfare expert may have been a casualty in the covert war against Iran.
>
> *Iran's growing electronic capabilities
> *Iranian lawmakers say the drone capture is a "great epic" and claim to be
> "in the final steps of breaking into the aircraft's secret code."
>
> Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told Fox News on Dec. 13 that the US will
> "absolutely" continue the drone campaign over Iran, looking for evidence of
> any nuclear weapons work. But the stakes are higher for such surveillance,
> now that Iran can apparently disrupt the work of US drones.
>
> US officials skeptical of Iran’s capabilities blame a malfunction, but so
> far can't explain how Iran acquired the drone intact. One American analyst
> ridiculed Iran’s capability, telling Defense News that the loss was “like
> dropping a Ferrari into an ox-cart technology culture.”
>
> A former senior Iranian official who asked not to be named said: "There are
> a lot of human resources in Iran.... Iran is not like Pakistan."
>
> “Technologically, our distance from the Americans, the Zionists, and other
> advanced countries is not so far to make the downing of this plane seem
> like a dream for us … but it could be amazing for others,” deputy IRGC
> commander Gen. Hossein Salami said this week.
> Iran: Obama should apologize for drone
> 'spying'<
> http://worldnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/13/9417003-iran-obama-should-apologize-for-drone-spying-operation
> >
>
> According to a European intelligence source, Iran shocked Western
> intelligence agencies in a previously unreported incident that took place
> sometime in the past two years, when it managed to “blind” a CIA spy
> satellite by “aiming a laser burst quite accurately.”
>
> More recently, Iran was able to hack Google security certificates, says the
> engineer. In September, the Google accounts of 300,000 Iranians were made
> accessible by hackers. The targeted company said "circumstantial evidence"
> pointed to a "state-driven attack" coming from Iran, meant to snoop on
> users.
>
> Cracking the protected GPS coordinates on the Sentinel drone was no more
> difficult, asserts the engineer.
>
> *US knew of GPS systems' vulnerability
> *Use of drones has become more risky as adversaries like Iran hone
> countermeasures. The US military has reportedly been aware of
> vulnerabilities with pirating unencrypted drone data streams since the
> Bosnia campaign in the mid-1990s.
> Top US officials said in 2009 that they were working to encrypt all drone
> data streams in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan – after finding militant
> laptops loaded with days' worth of data in Iraq – and acknowledged that
> they were "subject to listening and exploitation."Perhaps as easily
> exploited are the GPS navigational systems upon which so much of the modern
> military depends.
> "GPS signals are weak and can be easily outpunched [overridden] by poorly
> controlled signals from television towers, devices such as laptops and MP3
> players, or even mobile satellite services," Andrew Dempster, a professor
> from the University of New South Wales School of Surveying and Spatial
> Information Systems, told a March conference on GPS vulnerability in
> Australia.
>
> "This is not only a significant hazard for military, industrial, and
> civilian transport and communication systems, but criminals have worked out
> how they can jam GPS," he says.
>
> *Unmanned drone attacks and shape-shifting robots: War's remote-control
> future*<
> http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Military/2011/1022/Unmanned-drone-attacks-and-shape-shifting-robots-War-s-remote-control-future
> >
>
> The US military has sought for years to fortify or find alternatives to the
> GPS system of satellites, which are used for both military and civilian
> purposes. In 2003, a “Vulnerability Assessment Team” at Los Alamos National
> Laboratory published research explaining how weak GPS signals were easily
> overwhelmed with a stronger local signal.
>
> “A more pernicious attack involves feeding the GPS receiver fake GPS
> signals so that it believes it is located somewhere in space and time that
> it is not,” reads the Los Alamos report. “In a sophisticated spoofing
> attack, the adversary would send a false signal reporting the moving
> target’s true position and then gradually walk the target to a false
> position.”
>
> The vulnerability remains unresolved, and a paper presented at a Chicago
> communications security conference in October laid out parameters for
> successful spoofing of both civilian and military GPS units to allow a
> "seamless takeover" of drones or other targets.
>
> To “better cope with hostile electronic attacks,” the US Air Force in late
> September awarded two $47 million contracts to develop a "navigation
> warfare" system to replace GPS on aircraft and missiles, according to the
> Defense Update website.
>
> Official US data on GPS describes "the ongoing GPS modernization program"
> for the Air Force, which "will enhance the jam resistance of the military
> GPS service, making it more robust."
>
> *Why the drone's underbelly was damaged
> *Iran's drone-watching project began in 2007, says the Iranian engineer,
> and then was stepped up and became public in 2009 – the same year that the
> RQ-170 was first deployed in Afghanistan with what were then
> state-of-the-art surveillance systems.
> In January, Iran said it had shot down two conventional (nonstealth)
> drones, and in July, Iran showed Russian experts several US drones –
> including one that had been watching over the underground uranium
> enrichment facility at Fordo, near the holy city of Qom.
>
> In capturing the stealth drone this month at Kashmar, 140 miles inside
> northeast Iran, the Islamic Republic appears to have learned from two years
> of close observation.
>
> Iran displayed the drone on state-run TV last week, with a dent in the left
> wing and the undercarriage and landing gear hidden by anti-American
> banners.
>
> The Iranian engineer explains why: "If you look at the location where we
> made it land and the bird's home base, they both have [almost] the same
> altitude," says the Iranian engineer. "There was a problem [of a few
> meters] with the exact altitude so the bird's underbelly was damaged in
> landing; that's why it was covered in the broadcast footage."
>
> Prior to the disappearance of the stealth drone earlier this month, Iran’s
> electronic warfare capabilities were largely unknown – and often dismissed.
>
> "We all feel drunk [with happiness] now," says the Iranian engineer. "Have
> you ever had a new laptop? Imagine that excitement multiplied many-fold."
> When the Revolutionary Guard first recovered the drone, they were aware it
> might be rigged to self-destruct, but they "were so excited they could not
> stay away."
>
> ** **Scott Peterson* <http://www.csmonitor.com/tags/topic/Scott+Peterson
> >*,
> the Monitor's Middle East correspondent, wrote this story with an Iranian
> journalist who publishes under the pen name Payam Faramarzi and cannot be
> further identified for security reasons.
> *
>
> *© 2011 The Christian Science Monitor*
>
> <
> http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45685870/ns/world_news-christian_science_monitor/#
> >
>
>
> Best,
>
> -John
> ===============
>
>
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