— If the thought of having your car taken over by hackers who want to dominate the world doesn't appeal to you, how about the thought of being sent into the adjoining state by your trustworthy GPS system?
Thanks to a team of researchers at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Microsoft and Virginia Tech, a car's GPS could be fooled by spending $223 on parts to build a spoofing device.
And before you think no one could have access to your car to plant a device, no need to worry about that. Researchers showed the device worked just fine when stashed away in the car, but the whatchamacallit can fool a GPS system just by tagging along behind a moving vehicle by 160 feet, and do it without losing its wireless connection.
The $223 gadget works 95 percent of the time to fool the system through a smartphone or the internal car navigation system by blocking the real data that normally comes from satellites.
Forty volunteer drivers took part in the test and nearly every time the driver followed the spoofed directions thinking they were following accurate GPS instructions. However, there was a hint that something may have been astray.
Drivers said they noticed their GPS systems experienced outages for about 30 seconds, but they also said they believed it was just routine outages that can sometimes occur. Those 30-second outages were the exact times when the spoofing device was connecting to the GPS systems.
In almost every case the test drivers failed to realize anything may have been amiss as only two drivers thought something was wrong when they realized the roads didn't match the GPS directions that had been programmed.
Possibly the most scary part of this is what could happen with driverless trucks hauling cargo and how easy it would be to re-route the cargo to an out-of-the-way area for thieves to collect some free gifts.