Hackers take control of a yacht

A team of hackers has shown how it is possible to pirate an expensive yacht using GPS spoofing.

According to SC magazine, the team of university students have demonstrated that it is possible to subvert global positioning system navigation signals to pilot a superyacht without tripping alarms.

With the permission of the owners, the hackers took control of the White Rose, a 65-metre super yacht worth $80 million, that sailed from Monaco to the island of Rhodes in the Mediterranean.

The experiment took place some 50 kilometres off the coast of Italy in international waters.

Faint GPS signals were broadcast by the students from a spoofing device the size of a briefcase, aimed at the positioning system aerials of the ship.

The real GPS signals were slowly overpowered by those transmitted from the spoofing device, after which the students had gained control over the yacht’s navigational system.

They set the ship onto a new course, three degrees off. Although the electronic chart on the bridge of the White Rose showed that the ship was progressing along a straight line, crew and the students could see the ship had turned.

The flaw also applies to aircraft which are operated by autopilot. The team are now working out a way that this sort of spoofing can be detected or countered.