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Hackers break into GPS control center

Jan 1, 2003

A group of computer hackers recently gained access to the U.S. Government's GPS control unit, causing a stir in military circles and calling into question the proposed government plan to have GPS as the only source of electronic navigation.

Although the GPS satellites and the Air Force-operated ground-based control stations in Colorado were reportedly never in danger of sabotage, the group of hackers, who call themselves MOD (Masters of Downloading), claimed they were capable of controlling military communications networks as well as GPS satellites and receivers, according to a Reuter's report.

Critics of the U.S. government's plan to eliminate loran service by the year 2000 and make GPS the only electronic navigation system argue that disruption to GPS service by hackers is only one reason why a second electronic navigation tool should exist.

"GPS is a wonderful world utility, but it has a single-thread failure mode and is vulnerable to interruption by interference, jamming, hackers, space collisions, and natural causes (meteorites, solar flares)," said John Beukers, a member of the International Loran Association and proponent of maintaining a mix of terrestrial and satellite navigation.

"GPS cannot be the only system that provides positioning, navigation, and timing. With its economic and social well-being tied to a single system, it would be a simple matter for anyone wishing to harm the U.S. to interrupt the GPS utility and cause chaos," added Beukers.


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