Terrorist Threat to GPS “Fanciful”

A report by the U.K.’s Royal Academy of Engineering on the vulnerability of the GPS system has caused something of stir with apocalyptic visions of a cyber-hell.

“Cyber terrorists could cripple banks, send ships floundering on to rocks and bring death to the roads at the click of a mouse,” wrote one British newspaper.

The report’s author, Dr. Martyn Thomas, dismissed such reporting as hype. He said aim of the report, “Global Navigation Space Systems: reliance and vulnerabilities” was to highlight the “dangerous over-reliance” on satellite navigation and timing signals, which are vulnerable to disruption, either from natural events such as solar storms, or jamming.

While most people think of GPS as a navigation system such as your in-car navigation, it is also used in data networks, sea and air transport, railways and emergency services. It is also a global, synchronized, highly-accurate clock which is used in systems like high frequency trading.

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