Argonne National Laboratory Nuclear Engineering Division

Think, explore, discover, innovate
U.S. Department of Energy

Vulnerability Assessment Team (VAT)

GPS is easy to spoof

Network: Linkedin Roger Johnston on LinkedIn

The Global Position System (GPS) is increasingly being used for crucial safety and security applications such as emergency response services, law enforcement, cargo security, nuclear materials transport, aircraft navigation, and critical time & synchronization standards for utilities, telecommunications, and computer networks. This heavy reliance on GPS may be a mistake. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has warned that the civilian GPS signals (the only ones available to most government users and all private users) are not secure. Few GPS users are paying attention.

In a recent paper [Journal of Security Administration 25, 19-28 (2003)], the VAT demonstrated how civilian GPS satellite signals can be easily spoofed, not just jammed. With spoofing, an adversary provides fake GPS signals. This convinces the GPS receiver that it is located in the wrong place and/or time. Remarkably, spoofing can be accomplished without having much knowledge about electronics, computers, or GPS itself.

The VAT has proposed simple, inexpensive countermeasures to spoofing. These could be retrofitted to most existing GPS receivers.
See Jon S. Warner, Roger G. Johnston, "GPS Spoofing Countermeasures",  Homeland Security Journal, December 12, 2003.

Related Documents

For more information, see:

In the Press


Last Modified: Mon, September 30, 2013 7:47 PM



VAT Papers

For a selection of VAT papers available upon request, see Publications.

For copies of the VAT papers and presentations on a wide variety of physical security issues (tags, seals, product counterfeiting, vulnerability assessments, RFIDs, GPS, nuclear safeguards), contact Roger Johnston at

Inquiries about the Journal of Physical Security should be addressed to:

Recently added to
the Security Maxims…

Physical Security Maxims

Devil’s Dictionary of Security Terms

For more information:

Vulnerability Assessment Section
Sect. Manager: Roger G. Johnston, Ph.D., CPP
Fax: +1 630-252-7323

Argonne Experts Argonne Experts: Roger Johnston
Roger Johnston on LinkedIn



U.S. Department of Energy | UChicago Argonne LLC
Privacy & Security Notice | Contact Us | Site Map | Search   go to top