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Experts: Satellite Navigation Can Be Hacked

28 мая 2007
Security experts recently discovered a way to insert incorrect information into automobile navigation systems and it has some users lost behind the wheel. Some of the messages may be intended to by funny, but drivers are having a hard time finding humor with the hacks.

According to officials at Inverse Path, a security consultancy firm, off-the-shelf equipment can be used to send messages to a user's car satellite navigation systems warning of anything from simple traffic congestion to life-threatening terrorist attacks. Last week, Chief Security Engineer Andrea Barisani and Inverse's own hardware hacker Daniele Bianco showed attendees at the CanSecWest security conference in Vancouver just how easy getting into the system can be.

According to the security pros, circumventive messages can be sent over RDS (Radio Data System), a standard developed in Europe but now commonly used in North America that allows FM radio stations to transmit data over spectrum that runs along each FM channel. Barisani and Bianco said that during the past few years, satellite navigation systems have been receiving the RDS data so drivers can be alerted to traffic and weather conditions.

However, the security experts said they could build a device that transmits over the RDS channel, and through a process of trial and error, could transmit certain code numbers that translate into specific warnings that get displayed on the satellite navigation system.

Some were amusing, they said, having created an alert for a bull fight in progress. Others, however, were not so funny. Case in point: a code for a terrorist attack, a bomb alert, and an airplane crash. The lesson, Inverse Path said, is not to over-react when initially getting an alert on a navigation system.


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