Tegg Westbrook

Tegg Westbrook

CSTPV Visiting Scholar

Tegg Westbrook holds a BSc (Honours) in Human Geography, MA in International Relations, and PhD in Globalisation Studies. He is currently Associate Professor at the Department of Safety, Economics and Planning at the University of Stavanger. His research interests include the proliferation and use of security, police and military technologies. Recent research has focussed on the impacts of military and private GPS jamming in civilian areas, as well as the proliferation of “do-it-yourself” smart home security appliances.

Email Address: tegg.westbrook@uis.no

Hij[h]acking: GPS Spoofing and the new dimension of the ‘vehicle as a weapon’ threat

This project focuses on GPS spoofing as a method of attack against land, maritime and aerial vehicles. GPS spoofing is increasingly being used by state and non-state actors for manipulating the time, position and navigation data of military and civilian GPS-users in both conflict and non-conflict zones.

Military-grade jamming and spoofing equipment is available in the defence market, but increasingly we see off-the-shelf systems and online manuals widely available for those who want to target unencrypted civilian GPS signals. With the invention of software-defined radios, in only a few years GPS spoofing capability for non-state actors has risen, costs have reduced, and ease-of-use has improved considerably.

Academics mostly from Engineering and Computer Science disciplines have carried out numerous tests on various vehicles and have proved that GPS spoofing could one day be used by actors with malign intentions. However, while it is plausible that GPS spoofers can cause high casualties as well as political, physical and reputational damage, it is still not clear whether GPS spoofing – as a ‘weapon of choice’ – would be a worthwhile investment of time, funds, and effort for many violent organisations or individuals. This is based on the premise that other attack methods might be more successful and require limited specialism and sophistication to carry out. 

The project at the CSTPV looks at the GPS spoofing threat based on the broader intentions of a range of non-state actor groups. It looks critically at the potential mortality rate, media impact, physical damage, plausibility, and scalability of the GPS spoofing threat on various land, maritime and aerial vehicles, and in various locations around the world.