Get Even More Visitors To Your Blog, Upgrade To A Business Listing >>

GPS ‘spoofing’ thickens the fog of war

Presented by CTIA – The Wireless Association: How the next wave of technology is upending the global economy and its power structures
Oct 24, 2023 View in browser

By Matt Berg

Presented by CTIA – The Wireless Association

With help from Derek Robertson

Part of the damage on al Rashid Street caused by Israeli bombardment on Gaza City, Oct. 23, 2023. | Abed Khaled/AP Photo

“Spoofing” looks like it’s here to stay as a feature of the new kind of warfare on display in Israel, Gaza and Ukraine.

Despite the lighthearted name, Spoofing is a deadly serious missile-defense technique used by countries with very advanced technical abilities. It also carries risks that may stretch well beyond the battlefield.

By using spoofing, Israeli forces can make it appear that an airplane, precision-guided missile, or any object that uses GPS is somewhere other than its true location. Israel is already using the technique to its full advantage.

The Israeli government doesn’t disclose details about its spoofing techniques, but experts believe it likely uses a simulator that simply re-broadcasts a signal captured through a GPS antenna. The Israeli military has publicly said only that GPS has been “restricted in active combat zones in accordance with various operational needs.”

One experiment appeared to confirm the extent, and possible impact, of GPS spoofing. Using an open-source commercial airline tracker, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin noticed earlier this month that a large number of planes flying around the Mediterranean sea would appear on their normal flight path and then apparently appear over a single location in Israel.

Their best guess is that this was the result of Israel’s spoofing tactics. Basically, the same kind of signal tampering that fools plane trackers can also fool missile guidance systems that use GPS.

This satellite masking technique appears to be a clever way to thicken the fog of war in the face of ever-increasing reconnaissance capabilities, but experts fear that it might spread that fog beyond the battlefield — creating an even more chaotic, unpredictable future of war than the one we’re already experiencing.

Todd Humphreys, the UT Austin professor who hacked into Starlink last year, said of the airplane tracking “this is the most sustained and clear indication of spoofing I've ever seen. His graduate student, Zach Clements, first discovered the spoofing pattern.

Their research suggests that Israel has been deploying it since the Hamas militant group’s Oct. 7 surprise attack, setting up a widespread spoofing system to deter Hezbollah — a well-equipped militant group backed by Iran — from launching its long-range missiles into Israeli territory. Rather than hitting its target, a precision-guided missile that uses GPS would veer off course and (ideally) land in the middle of nowhere.

Experts believe advanced weapons that use GPS will become more common in battle, so Israel using it now makes sense, and that its use in battle will increase.

“Every major conflict has heavily involved electronic warfare, particularly against GPS and other satellite systems, and that is likely to be a feature of any future conflict,” said Brian Weeden, who served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force for nine years with a focus on space and intercontinental ballistic missile operations.

Weeden, now director of program planning at the Washington, D.C.-based think tank Secure World Foundation, added: “I would expect that in any modern warfare, someone is going to just disrupt [navigation signals] in and across the battlefield.”

The U.S. and other Western countries have conducted large-scale spoofing exercises before, but not in times of war, Weeden said. Ukraine and Russia have both used GPS spoofing in their current conflict, and China has also used it in recent years.

Whether it’s ethical is another question.

There’s a risk that spoofing can disrupt civilian air travel in potentially dangerous ways. Pilots on commercial airlines use GPS as one of their key navigation tools, optimizing flight routes, reducing fuel usage and helping with landing, among other important functions. A spoofing incident over Iraq and Iran in September almost caused a business jet to fly into Iranian airspace without clearance.

And it’s also possible a misguided missile initially aimed at a military target could mistakenly hit civilians.

“It's not like we're condemning Israel for this. We understand the situation going on,” Humphreys said. But Israel is “putting at risk not just Israelis, but everyone who's flying in the eastern Mediterranean and there are many, many flights.”

There isn’t much precedent in international law regarding GPS interference and other satellite tampering, as its military application is so new.

“There's a lot of murkiness there because a lot of these things haven't actually been brought to fruition,” said Kari Bingen, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Security and International Studies, and the Pentagon’s former principal deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence.

In times of war, however, the rules can be different.

Hezbollah’s arsenal poses a real threat to Israel, as the group is estimated to have 130,000 rockets and missiles. Most have a range of a few dozen miles, but a sizable number are long-range precision-guided ones. If they decided to fire into Israel, the war would inevitably escalate.

Spoofing isn’t being used “to attack somebody. They're using it to protect their forces,” Bingen said. “They have every right to defend themselves. You have to defend yourself physically; you have to defend yourself in the electromagnetic Spectrum.”


A message from CTIA – The Wireless Association:

China is pushing countries to adopt their 5G spectrum vision and build a global market that favors their tech companies. To counter China’s ambitions, we need our own compelling vision for U.S. spectrum leadership over the next decade, and a clear commitment to make more 5G spectrum available. For our economic competitiveness, our national security, and our 5G leadership, America needs a bold new National Spectrum Strategy. Learn more.

an ai warning

A group of AI leaders is calling for an even bigger emphasis on safety in both the technology’s development and regulation.

Experts including Geoffrey Hinton, Dawn Song and Andrew Yao published a paper this morning warning that AI development runs the risk of getting ahead of humanity’s ability to control it, and that much stricter safety controls are needed. They recommend governments allocate one-third of their AI R&D funding to safety, establish legal liability for harms caused by “frontier” models, and establish a licensing regime for those models, among other things.

“These are not toys,” the University of California Berkeley’s Stuart Russell said in a press release. “Increasing their capabilities before we understand how to make them safe is utterly reckless… There are more regulations on sandwich shops than there are on AI companies.” — Derek Robertson


A message from CTIA – The Wireless Association:

ai money in washington

K Street in Washington. | J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

No prize for guessing what’s powering a big quarter on K Street: AI, naturally.

Caitlyn Oprysko wrote in today’s POLITICO Influence newsletter about how seemingly everyone has started to pay attention to — i.e., spend money on — Washington’s attempts to create a regulatory framework for AI, given the technology’s massive reach across sectors from health care to transportation.

Nadeam Elshami of the lobbying firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck told Caitlyn that potential omnipresence “has gotten a lot of our clients and new clients interested in this space” who otherwise might not have been, while another major lobbyist told her that the industry’s efforts to influence policy have been “notable.” — Derek Robertson


JOIN 10/25 FOR A TALK ON THE FUTURE OF GRID RELIABILITY: The EPA’s proposed standards for coal and new natural gas fired power plants have implications for the future of the electric grid. These rules may lead to changes in the power generation mix—shifting to more renewable sources in favor of fossil-fuel plants. Join POLITICO on Oct. 25 for a deep-dive conversation on what it will take to ensure a reliable electric grid for the future. REGISTER NOW.

the dod and ai

Former Defense Undersecretary for Policy Michèle Flournoy. | Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Michèle Flournoy, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy for former President Barack Obama, is joining the chorus of voices that say robust AI policy is key for maintaining America’s geopolitical strength.

In an op-ed for Foreign Affairs, Flournoy writes that “AI Is Already At War” — whether or not the federal government has the tech chops to keep up.

“To ensure that AI defense applications are both safe and successful, the Pentagon will need to further bolster AI guardrails, add new technical staff, and develop new ways of testing and procuring AI,” Flournoy writes. “Time is of the essence, and the stakes are too high for the United States to fall behind.”

She goes on to detail some of the applications of AI already in use in the Air Force and other branches of the military, and to recommend that the Department of Defense leverage industry connections to keep up with China: “...Defense officials must rethink how they buy software-based products and services, including AI,” she writes. “Instead of taking years to develop a fixed set of highly specific requirements… it should quickly identify the specific problems it is trying to solve and the common standards that any proposed solutions must meet and then allow companies to offer solutions in a competitive bidding process.” — Derek Robertson

Tweet of the Day

  • The Department of Justice is expanding its investigation of Tesla.
  • Intuit is hiring human moderators to clean up its AI platforms.
  • A group of VCs including Marc Andreessen joined today’s White House AI discussion.
  • Amazon is using AI to track its vast fleet of delivery drivers.
  • Walmart has launched a Web3 accelerator program.

Stay in touch with the whole team: Ben Schreckinger ([email protected]); Derek Robertson ([email protected]); Mohar Chatterjee ([email protected]); Steve Heuser ([email protected]); Nate Robson ([email protected]) and Daniella Cheslow ([email protected]).

If you’ve had this newsletter forwarded to you, you can sign up and read our mission statement at the links provided.


A message from CTIA – The Wireless Association:

America’s spectrum policy is stuck in neutral. The FCC’s spectrum auction authority has not been renewed, there is no pipeline of new spectrum for 5G, and China is poised to dominate global spectrum discussions, pushing for 15X more 5G spectrum than the U.S. America cannot afford to fall behind and become a spectrum island. The Biden Administration’s forthcoming National Spectrum Strategy is a unique and important opportunity to recommit ourselves to a bold vision for global spectrum leadership, secure our 5G leadership today and long-term leadership of the industries and innovations of the future. For our economic competitiveness and our national security, we need a National Spectrum Strategy that is committed to allocating 1500 MHz of new mid-band spectrum for 5G, and that reaffirms the critical role that NTIA and the FCC play in leading the nation’s spectrum policy. Learn more.


WSF 2023 will discuss ‘Mastering the New Economy’, examining the ways in which business and society can thrive despite current economic and environmental challenges. The conference will gather 100+ speakers from companies including Volkswagen, Siemens and, as well as U.S. Senator for Tennessee Bill Hagerty; Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis; Former President of Colombia Iván Duque Márquez and Former President of Ecuador Jamil Mahuad. Learn more and register now at


Follow us on Twitter

Ben Schreckinger @SchreckReports

Derek Robertson @afternoondelete

Steve Heuser @sfheuser


Follow us


To change your alert settings, please log in at

This email was sent to [email protected] by: POLITICO, LLC 1000 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA, 22209, USA

Please click here and follow the steps to unsubscribe.

This post first appeared on Test Sandbox Updates, please read the originial post: here

Share the post

GPS ‘spoofing’ thickens the fog of war


Subscribe to Test Sandbox Updates

Get updates delivered right to your inbox!

Thank you for your subscription