Digital Conflict

By Kevin Coleman

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Kevin Coleman

North Korea's GPS jamming poses recurring cyber threat

North Korea recently demonstrated its cyber-related capabilities by jamming the Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation systems in the area of the border between North and South Korea. This obviously is part of what North Korea referred to in its pledge to carry out “special actions” against South Korea. The attack, which lasted nearly a week, began in late April and carried into early May. The attack affected GPS capabilities in passenger vehicles, aircraft, ships and other navigation systems. Most GPS systems displayed an error message due to the hostile activities.

The effect was said to be negligible, and no accidents, injuries or deaths were reported due to the GPS disruption. However, one has to conclude that the safety of those who depend on the GPS systems had to have been put at some minimal level of risk. One intelligence source stated that it believes Russian companies have been providing fairly powerful GPS jamming equipment to the North Korean military for some time now. This is the second time GPS systems were the target of a hostile action. The previous attack occurred back in March of 2011 and lasted 10 days.

We researched GPS jamming devices shortly after the 2011 attack and found a few available online. We ordered and tested one and for under $500 and free shipping. It jammed the GPS signal for about 150 feet around the jammer. While the North Korean jamming capability was much greater, this experiment demonstrated the ease with which this could be done by anyone with some funding.

Posted by Kevin Coleman on May 17, 2012 at 12:54 PM


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