The recent news about an Uber driver spoofing GPS to inflate fares has once-again raised questions about the reliability of GPS as a geolocation mechanism.
An increasing number of businesses rely on GPS for localization & navigation. The open nature of GPS has made it’s way into almost every business application. Some businesses use it to tailor user experiences, while others have completely built their business models around it.
Consumer GPS, like the one used by your customers, come from satellites orbiting the earth. This service, while free, has a couple of major issues, making it vulnerable to spoofing and jamming.
You can see how we fooled Google Maps into thinking we were in California. (Video below or on youtube)
Why GPS isn’t good enough
It is not encrypted
- Encrypted GPS systems are used in military applications. These encrypted systems make GPS a little more secure (although, not entirely). Applying some form of encryption would help – but this isn’t going to happen. Open de-encrypted GPS is the prime reason why it is so widely used by businesses.
The signals aren’t strong enough:
- Every satellite based navigation system share a fundamental weakness as they rely on signals from satellites transmitting from an altitude of around 12 thousand miles, the signals are very weak, making them vulnerable to accidental or deliberate interference.
It’s too easy to spoof
- Simple apps available on the Google AppStore give people the ability to trick any app into thinking that they’re in a location they actually aren’t. Software spoofing is as simple as clicking a button. There is no need to root the device or learn programming.
- If you want to completely jam the GPS signal to an external device. You can just buy a GPS jammer for as low as $12.99.
What can we do about it?
A smart way to address the problem is to combine existing technologies to build a secure tracking solution. There already exists a secure infrastructure – Firms & governments have spent decades developing cellular coverage around the world.
Layering GPS results with Cell+WiFi based geolocation give firms a much needed asset recovery apparatus that results in mitigation of risks. This technology is built from the ground up to be simple, modular and reliable.
To learn more about TrustedGPS – and get access to over 115 million cell towers/ 1.5 billion WiFi access points around the world – write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org