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South Korea heightens protections against GPS attacks

Fri 29 Jul 2016

Korea GPS jamming

The science ministry in Seoul announced today that it is focusing on creating technology to protect South Korea from North Korean attempts to jam GPS signals. At a cabinet meeting, the government approved a set of comprehensive measures to upgrade existing systems of protection and to develop new technology to deal with the threat.

GPS signal disruptions are potentially disastrous, as they affect planes and trains that rely on GPS to function, as well as disrupting mobile phone networks. The technology that South Korea is developing will track where a jamming signal originates from, as well as prevent its effectiveness in disrupting the satellite signal for GPS systems. The science ministry will conduct regular drills to help protect the population against such attacks, working closely with international organizations like the United Nations to share ideas and technological developments.

South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn said, “North Korea has been carrying out GPS disruptions since 2010. This is a provocation that cannot be tolerated. As such attacks have an adverse impact on society and the economy, preemptive action is required.”

Attacks involving the jamming of GPS satellite signals have occurred in South Korea since 2010, often in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. In April of this year, South Korea reported that daily GPS jamming attacks took place over the course of a week, affecting aircraft navigation systems in the demilitarized zone. In that attack, an estimated 962 aircraft were exposed to the jamming signals, along with 700 ships and 1,700 telecommunications base stations. This attack was the fourth of its kind, with three others occurring between 2010 and 2012. At that time, South Korea warned the government of North Korea to immediately halt the jamming operation, as it was endangering the lives of ordinary people in violation of international rules.

A ministry official who wished to remain anonymous addressing the science ministry’s plan to protect South Korea from North Korean jamming, “Details of the countermeasures cannot be disclosed. North Korea should not be aware of the level of our readiness.”

Just yesterday, the North Korean government’s General Bureau of Reconnaissance was accused by the South Korean government of stealing the personal data of more than 10 million online shoppers in South Korea, as part of a pervasive and ongoing hacking operation.

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