What Is GPS Spoofing and Why Is it a Threat?

If you have some sort of connection to the shipping industry or have any interest in it, then you must have heard of GPS spoofing. However, the truth is that it is a huge threat for almost everyone and not just those in the international shipping industry. So, what is GPS spoofing, really?

During the past couple of years, there have been several GPS spoofing attacks in the global shipping industry. For this reason, more and more people are becoming weary of this relatively new form of attack. Now, before we can know the reasons why it is a universal threat that should be taken seriously, let us first know what it is exactly.

What Is GPS Spoofing?

What is GPS spoofing? As we have just mentioned, GPS spoofing is a form of attack. It is done to mislead the GPS receiver by broadcasting wrong signals regarding the location of something. The signals sent through the spoofing are methodically regulated to be similar to any set of actual GPS signals.

Another way to do GPS spoofing is by redistributing authentic signals that were recorded at a different time or a different place. The senders alter these false signals in ways that result in the receiver to wrongly assess the position of the sender or to locate them at a different time.

A common type of such an attack is known as a carry-off. The attackers start by distributing the signals that are harmonized with the authentic signals detected by the target receiver. Afterward, their strength is slowly amplified and averted from the real signals. One such incident occurred at the end of 2011, with a drone jet in Iran.

Is GPS Spoofing Just a Theory or Is it Real?

Previously, GPS spoofing attacks used to be nothing but a mere concept, as no proof of any actual attack ever came to the front. However, in 2013, a highly expensive vessel was misled through false signals that were sent by some engineering students of UT as an experiment.

While the experiment went successful, it demonstrated how easily any gadget having a normal GPS technology could fall prey to this menace. This realization came as a bright prospect for the imposters and tricksters.

Since then, they have been using this technology for deceiving people through software hacks that were basically established for examining the functionality and precision of GPS. A major bluffing incident occurred when over 20 yachts in the black sea were deceived using false signals that came from Russia.

Can Anyone Do It?

Although not as common as GPS jamming, GPS spoofing is really easy to do. The American GPS is comprised of a group of 24 satellites that revolve around our planet. The satellites closest to the GPS instruments send them signals, which enables them to conclude their exact position.

Nearly every gadget you use these days comes with a built-in GPS functionality. Moreover, there are numerous apps and games now that also require the use of this feature. This means that GPS devices are not only used for commercial and martial services, but they are also used by common people on a day-to-day basis.

Despite this broad range of use, these systems still depend on the data from the GPS satellites network. This means, if the data from those satellites get manipulated by someone, a multitude of issues can arise on the systems that depend on these statistics.

Common Apps that Allow GPS Spoofing

You may not know it yet, but you might have done some GPS spoofing as well. Nowadays, there are numerous spoofing applications that are not only easily available on the Google PlayStore or Apple App Store, but are also widely used for quasi-legal purposes. Some of these apps include the following:

  • Pokemon Go

Who doesn’t know about this very popular game and how it took the world by storm when it was released in 2016? The game allows you to play without having to leave your actual position. A lot of players fake their locations to show they are catching the pokemon. However, in reality, they are either at home or at work or just someplace else.

  • Dating Apps

Even the dating applications you use don’t spare you from spoofing. A widely prevalent dating app, Tinder, comes with a paid option that enables you to alter your GPS location for augmenting the likelihood of getting a compatible partner.

  • Facebook

Remember all the times you checked in at certain places on Facebook but you actually never went there? Yes, that’s how this social media platform lets you spoof your location.

  • Instagram

Instagram allows you to add images to its photo map from any location all over the globe. A lot of people use this as a chance to impress their friends for the serious travel buffs they are—only that it is, in some cases, untrue.

How Is E-commerce Affected by GPS Spoofing?

The highest number of GPS spoofing incidents occur in the e-commerce industry. When you place an online order, the Internet Protocol address on your device sends out its actual location. Throughout the years, the databases having IP addresses that are linked to actual geographic locations have dramatically increased. This has resulted in increasing the risks of GPS spoofing.

With mobile phones, spoofing the actual location has become much simpler. Fraudsters use a spoofing software for placing an online order by using the name of an unsuspicious cardholder living in any other part of the world. The countries that are most prone to these attacks include Vietnam, Ghana, and a few more.

How to Be Safe from GPS Spoofing

Although it’s not possible to entirely ward off the risk of GPS spoofing, there are various ways to minimize their likelihood. Here are a few of them:

  • Keep your antennas away from the places that can be accessed by the public.
  • Install blockers. They can identify whenever there is an attempt of signal jamming or spoofing.
  • Do not use a single type of GPS technology. The updated versions of civilian GPS feature much stronger signals than the prior ones. The high strength enables them to resist any interference or spoofing better.
  • Minimize dormancy in the acknowledgment and reportage of any spoofing attempts. Receivers can easily be misguided if the attack isn’t acknowledged and conveyed. As a result, backup instruments can easily get manipulated.
  • Use a reliable server for associating your GPS data with an IP ping to it. Search for the coordinates for that Internet Protocol in several GeoDatabases.
  • For playing games that need a high volume of data, gather extra authentication like SSID addresses. Peers sharing the same position ought to have a slight overlay in the data.


GPS spoofing was a theory a few years back but has now become the reality we all live in. In fact, it is becoming so prevalent, that if you regularly use GPS devices, you now need to take extra measures to keep yourself safe from GPS spoofing attempts.

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