Bogus Satellite Nav Signals Send Autonomous Cars Off the Road

Driverless cars are great and all, but they’re not much good if they don’t know where they’re going. That simple concept was driven home here at the Black Hat security conference where Victor Murray, an Engineering Group Leader at SwRI, showed how he caused driverless cars to stop, change lanes, and even drive off the road at his command.

Murray accomplished his remote control attacks by spoofing navigation data from the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), a generic term for any satellite navigation system that provides global coverage. Examples of GNSS include the Global Positioning System (GPS), which is maintained by the US government, or the Russian GLONASS system.

A fundamental problem with GNSS systems, Murray said, is they lack integrity mechanisms. That means there’s no way for the receiving antenna to know if the signal it sees is legitimate.