Spoofing Border Drones
December 22, 2015 8:50 AM   Subscribe

The bad guys on the border have lots of money and what they are putting money into is into spoofing and jamming GPS systems. DHS was unable to say just how often smugglers tried to jam or spoof border-watching UAVs. CBP had little to show for the big price tag. UAVs helped in just 2 percent of apprehensions on the southwest border.
posted by sammyo (7 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

I'm sure that's exactly what all of these drone manufacturers and their politician friends are thinking too. And the public-military industrial complex keeps on ticking.
posted by mayonnaises at 10:00 AM on December 22, 2015

The worst bad guys at the boarder are DHS & Boarder Patrol.
posted by feralscientist at 11:04 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

See also 2011, when Iran stole a US drone with GPS spoofing.

I don't understand how this is possible with $500,000 DHS or military drones. GPS has a whole special military mode precisely for authentication. OTOH a $10 civilian GPS chip is awfully tempting to use, the special military stuff doesn't benefit from economies of scale.

There's been years of calls for authenticated civilian GPS. I think part of the problem is the military's signal not only is authenticated, but has extra precision the US doesn't want civilians to have easy access to. You could in theory separate the two features, but upgrading civilian GPS is complicated.

Worth adding that while GPS spoofing is preventable, GPS jamming is a lot harder. I wonder how well these drones navigate when they lose GPS, in particular whether they can keep station doing their surveillance work.
posted by Nelson at 11:34 AM on December 22, 2015

What this should mean: we stop sinking billions of dollars into stupid, nonfunctional border "security" measures that are little more than payouts to defense contractors so that border patrol agents have yet another tool in their ever-more-militarized arsenal.

What this actually means: we will now spend much more money on military-grade UAVs, and sink a bunch of money into countermeasures to the countermeasures. And then when the cartels figure out how to defeat those, we'll continue ad infinitum.
posted by Mayor West at 12:23 PM on December 22, 2015

Well, a Predator drone did help convict those cattle thieves in North Dakota.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:46 PM on December 22, 2015

Shouldn't it be east to detect and locate GPS spoofing? I mean, it requires a big radio transmitter. The aren't inconspicuous in the radio frequencies. Plus, the guys operating them are probably cartel members, much more valuable targets for border patrols than random border crossers.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:11 PM on December 22, 2015

This article reads mostly like bullshit to drum up business for "Vanguard Defense Industries", who (surprise!) are marketing a solution to this alleged problem.

I mean:

The ShadowHawk uses military-grade encryption and changes GPS frequencies every half second, according to Buscher.

posted by indubitable at 5:31 PM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

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