A new patent suggests that Boeing is now looking towards blockchain in order to perfect its GPS technology. The patent, called ON-BOARD BACKUP AND ANTI-SPOOFING GPS SYSTEM, was made available for the public by the US Patent and Trademark Office on 14 December.
Boeing describes an “onboard backup and anti-spoofing GPS”, or OBASG, which navigates “a vehicle through an environment with a GPS receiver, wherein the GPS receiver is configured to receive GPS signals within the environment, and wherein the GPS signals suffer a GPS outage or are unreliable within the environment.”
“In general, the OBASG includes a GPS block-chain recorder, a block-chain storage module, an anti-spoofing module, and a backup navigation module.”
GPS spoofing is a practice whereby attackers attempt to fool a GPS receiver by broadcasting incorrect GPS signals, structured to resemble a set of normal GPS signals, or by rebroadcasting genuine signals captured elsewhere or at a different time. These spoofed signals may be modified in such a way as to cause the receiver to estimate its position to be somewhere other than where it actually is, or to be located where it is but at a different time, as determined by the attacker.
Boeing’s blockchain-powered anti-spoofing tech is further described in details:
“The method comprising: determining if the GPS receiver is receiving the GPS signals; recording the received GPS signals to a block-chain storage module if the GPS receiver is receiving the GPS signals; determining if the GPS signals, received by the GPS receiver, are spoofed GPS signals; and retrieving position data from the block-chain storage module if the GPS receiver is not receiving the GPS signals or is receiving spoofed GPS signals.”
GPS spoofing attacks can have both military and civilian consequences. The capture of the US drone RQ-170 in Iran circa 2011 was the result of such an attack. In June 2017, approximately 20 ships operating near the Black Sea complained of GPS anomalies, which resembled spoofing attacks, according to Professor Todd Humphrey. These attacks seemed to emerge near Putin’s Palace, leading to the conclusion that the Russian secret service employs these GPS spoofs in order to mask Putin’s location, affecting maritime traffic.