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

Rob Kimberley robkimberley at btinternet.com
Fri Dec 16 05:16:42 EST 2011

I'm sure they have access to whatever they need. Set up a bunch of
pseudolites, and of you go....

Rob Kimberley

-----Original Message-----
From: time-nuts-bounces at febo.com [mailto:time-nuts-bounces at febo.com] On
Behalf Of Jim Palfreyman
Sent: 15 December 2011 22:07
To: jfor at quikus.com; Discussion of precise time and frequency measurement
Subject: Re: [time-nuts] "The GPS navigation is the weakest point,"


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.


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
> "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-ira
> nian-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
> "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-H
> ow-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
> 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
> "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-sho
> uld-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
> "We all feel drunk [with happiness] now," says the Iranian engineer. 
> "Have you ever had a new laptop? Imagine that excitement multiplied
> 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.
> *
> *C 2011 The Christian Science Monitor*
> <
> http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45685870/ns/world_news-christian_science_m
> onitor/#
> >
> Best,
> -John
> ===============
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