Open Sources 6APR16- North Korean GPS Jamming


Kim Jong Un

DPRK (North Korea) is jamming South Korean GPS signals, continuing their pattern of belligerence as of late.

This is really nothing new, as DPRK has a pattern of doing this for some time, possibly aided by Iran in how they took those Navy boats off course a few months back. (Remember how that happened…how they got off course?)

DPRK’s pattern of action

The pattern has been a significant problem in South Korea for some time now, seen here, and here, leading the South Koreans to build a new, independent GPS network,

South Korea’s independent GPS mapping system

seen below. The issue now is that DPRK has seemed to hack that too.

This is a serious problem, and very significant considering their continued pattern of belligerence and general disregard concerning foreign policy measures to stop them.

Reminding everyone that they launched a satellite not that long ago and being disregarded as a failure by many, it is likely that this is not the case. While it cannot be gathered exactly to what ends the satellite serves for sure, at this point it cannot be ruled out that is is something nefarious.

I’m certain we’ll find out the hard way, as per the usual.


Spoofing, simply put, is a type of man in the middle attack that sends a stronger local signal to GPS receivers than what they get from the triangulating satellites, with incorrect data. These attacks range from simply giving inaccurate readings to desensitizing the receiver altogether.

An example of spoofing

As you might’ve already guessed, this is a very, very serious problem, especially considering the fact that most folks lack any sort of ability to function without GPS these days.

Eastern warfare is all about exploiting seams and gaps; I’d say over reliance on high tech systems out of local control is quite a large seam and gap.

Why this matters to you

If you are under the impression that our internal political issues are our own, you’d be quite wrong; others are paying attention, waiting, in some cases stirring the pot as well, and creating an opportunity. Just think of the chaos created from not simply attacking the lights, but the whole system most rely upon. It’s a much bigger deal than most realize, and they’re working on making that hell a reality.

Good thing you’re working on those map, compass and protractor skills. Tempus fugit.

33 thoughts on “Open Sources 6APR16- North Korean GPS Jamming

  1. Oh ya, the lesson isn’t lost on me. On the other hand I think one can never get enough understanding on that score regardless of being as independent of the issues that will arise from not being prepared as possible. There are just so many second/third order effects to consider.
    Speaking of “others” watching for weaknesses to exploit, other day was reading one of Charles Hughes Smiths excellent pieces on economics,
    …got to thinking about all that wealth in the hands of so few, which is no coincidence in itself, and the inherent form of feudalism it represents, that kind of wealth, and its inherent influence, and the timeless axiom of what do men with money want, more money, what do men with power want, more power, a private combat operative force would be pocket change for these robber bankster/barons, so the next question is how long before these financial potentates start to build private mercenary armies, if they haven’t already. After all, probably only a few of them are able to use the US military as their geopolitical tools, and there are limits on even that influence, furthermore as things internally within the conus sphere go hot, a private mercenary army would be a pretty handy thing for one or group of oligarchs to have at their disposal.
    In that light I would consider it as large a threat as outside opfor.

      1. In that sense mercenary characteristics of certain state sanctioned law enforcement entities are not much different.
        Whose to say with certainty either if the NorKs aren’t just a hermit nation and are somebody’s proxy? Think of all the things you could do that you couldn’t another way with a handy world destabilizing rouge dictatorship everyone loves to hate at your disposal.

  2. everlastingphelps

    One thing that David Drake got 100% right in the Hammers Slammers series — when two big boys decide to square off, the first thing that happens is everything above the horizon is dead. No satellites at all — they are easy to detect, they move in easily predicted courses, and they are delicate as hell.

    One of the dumbest things the US has done was to take selective broadcast out of the latest block of GPS birds. It’s not clear if they even have the ability to turn it off, but they certainly can’t restrict it to just US MIL receivers anymore. What is most likely to happen then things get sporty (domestic or foreign) is that the USAF will end up shooting our own birds out of the sky.

    Ponder THAT one for a while.

      1. Aren’t the NorKs a symptom of a inherent problem much larger than anything they can do? Isn’t the correct question of the day about how far militaries have strayed from those basics because technology has become a kind of “pacifier” for poor leadership and organization instead of accentuating the basics to the highest possible extent?

    1. David has a great style, lot like Hienlin and Jerry Pournelle, they share that way of portraying the truth of the human terrain of war.

    1. Yep. Well, a bit more to it than that, they issued a false landing command as well, but yes, it was a man in the middle spoof attack.

  3. .weston.pecos.

    I would think that using dual-receiver GPS units would at least alert the user to the fact that one of the systems is being jammed. My Garmin GPS for hiking uses GPS and Russian GLONASS signals to make a more precise determination of location. To spoof that device, they would need to spoof both NAV system signals. The Europeans are building and deploying a satellite NAV system that is even better than our GPS system and I believe there are already multiband receivers available to pick that up and use their signals. And, the Chinese are deploying their own system which is supposed to be the absolute best, most precise of all the systems. Again, the real value is in getting a multiple-receive GPS device to use 2 or 3 or more of these systems simultaneously. I think there are cell phones that already can pick up the European system.

    1. As for alerting the user, sure, if they know how to recognize it.

      Our Sailors didn’t.

      Our Drone pilot didn’t(although, there were a few more factors to this)

      As for GLONASS, yes, having a dual receive function is nice, until you may be concerned with having foreign countries triangulating your position. Because they do.

      And further, justifying the use of navigation aids which operate beyond YOUR CONTROL….well, you missed the point.

  4. mtnforge

    Seriously, I never felt comfortable with GPS. Got one of those Garmin handheld units when they first came out in the 90’s, just something about using it never sat right with me. Though I really liked the straight compass feature. Actually pretty quick that’s how I used it mostly. The altitude feature is handy as a reference to elevation contours on geodetic maps. The thing is, maps are wrong a lot, and GPS only confuses the issue I found. But I’m old school in that sense, and there is a feel for orientation, the lay of the land, dead reckoning, position of the sun, natural sense of direction, and learning over time how to translate from map to terrain and vise versa that no GPS can substitute. Lot of times I find don’t even have to use a compass much but when I get past a certain traverse distance, or when the tree canopy or deeply cloudy days blocks the sun or moon, I just need a quick bearing fix where north is, and I’m good for a while.
    Got one of those Commenga Tritium wrist compasses few years back, that is a dandy little number right there. Especially at night, that little baby is a might handy item. Drop my rifle, stick out the ol’ arm, and a quick fix, great when your hand railing a really steep hollow or ridge line, or if something don’t seem familiar, or you can get set for your next major terrain feature your working towards.
    In the boy scouts they really pounded orienteering with a compass through our thick skulls.
    But I grew up in the sticks, so I was used to dead reckoning, I think it really gives you a head start when your a kid. We never got lost as kids, probably cause we knew the major terrain features, you know brooks mountains and rivers, and how to dope out their relation to destination.
    If the NorKs or somebody knocks out the GPS, I wouldn’t notice. Kind of like how where I live in WV, if the slow collapse turns drastic, lot of folks in these mountains would hardly notice the economy shit the bed. Especially since all the coal mines are gone.
    Which depending how you look at it, me, call me provincial being the glass is half full, its time to get back to agrarian living and Jeffersonian principles. The more the merrier really. Then you can devote your energy to what really matters and living true liberty and people get to banding together. Starting to see lot of that lately, its good signs. These mountains from Georgia up into WV, where Gods blessing on that score. Lot of inherent strength in these hill and hollows and the folks who reside amongst the Lords creation.

    1. I’m not a fan of GPS.

      I carried one deployed, both the issued one, and later a Garmin 60csx. The reason for this getting an immediate grid for medevac purposes and it made getting a front line trace during insertion radio checks simple.

      But my map kit was always, and always is, right there on my side. Many I know really like the wrist compasses, personally I don’t use one but that doesn’t mean they’re bad; I can tolerate one watch, that’s about it. Make sure when you wear it it’s on your non-firing hand.

      As for the manner in which GPS is over used today- even on phones, most people I know, vets and civi alike, have little skill as far as terrain analysis even if it’s taking a casual drive through an unfamiliar city.

      And the “more advanced” we get, the worse it becomes.

      1. Staying Left Of Bang right in all things right?

        By the way, I revisited your post on that, one of those great things in life which get better with time.

    2. MissAnthropy

      The problem with going back to an agrarian life is that the rest of the world isn’t going to follow suit. “Live and let live” is an utterly alien concept to the Islamic world, so we must maintain military superiority. In fact in the near future we, or our descendants, may curse us for not dealing with Islam when military disparity was so lopsidedly in our favor.

      1. mtnforge

        How’s that all worked out so far my friend?
        Not too well from my perspective.
        You can chicken out if you like, that’s your business and liberty. But I’m not hearing that fat lady singing. She ain’t even warming up. And for my part I refuse to give her the opportunity.
        You forget at your peril it all begins with each of us. Where a determined minority has really been the only thing that has changed the world for the better, against all odds, history shows that is so. Remember, those who ignore the past take the dirt nap first.

      2. The problem with going back to an agrarian life is that few know how, and those same are gonna get there one way or the other most likely not by their chosing. We live a decadent life comapared to much of the world.

        Aside from that, “agrarian life” as you put it, is a whole other topic. I prefer knowing where my food comes from and taking pride in being independent, but hey, that’s me. Mine and I will be just fine.

        As far as military superiority and all that jazz…well, that’s a whole other can of worms too. And far above my paygrade. Build a local network, and the rest will take care of itself. The Peshmerga are still around. Wonder how that happened.

    3. Obmar

      In the boy scouts they really pounded orienteering with a compass through our thick skulls.

      Like my oldest son tells me when we’re elk hunting, “an Eagle Scout doesn’t get lost in the wilderness”. Always rubbing it in.

  5. mtnforge

    I hear you on all that. Maps and compasses they don’t lie, run out of batteries, they don’t require an open horizon to pick up satellites either. Medevac and artillery coordinates aren’t a high priority when your a G either it seems. To me good map and compass work is a perishable skill, and hard won, but once mastered is irreplaceable. I kind of rate it in with night operations, where night vision has its uses, but what happens when you loose yours, or they break down or there’s no batteries? Except for the darkest phase of the moon cycles, I can get by pretty good with my Aimpoint set on the lowest illumination to pick up targets, its like a reference device, and looking obliquely at what I want to determine is out there works pretty well, same for traveling at night in the woods. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have a starlight scope, but the cost is far beyond my humble means. I’d rather spend money on a top line Trijicon ACOG if given the choice. (Got me a RX06 Reflex with the amber triangle, brother that is a sweet sight. Max Velocity let me try his AR he had mounted with a green triangle reticle ACOG. That is one incredible sight. Nothing can hide from that optic, if you can see an eyeball looking around from cover you can nail it.)
    Besides I’ve managed bushwhacking all my life without one, you get to learning how to operate with the good old mark 1 eyeball, you can se quite a bit, and learn how to distinguish between shadow phantoms showing up in your vision and something truly moving or determining shapes by looking offset. Those skills don’t require batteries or resources, and they don’t break down.

    I run it on my wrist compass off hand, that way in a pinch I can stick my left arm out, and my rifle out in the opposite direction to limit the magnetic disturbance. The wrist compass is only accurate enough to get a general bearing in any case, a reference really.

    You use a watch for a lot of things bush related?
    (I don’t even have an alarm clock, kind of like sense of direction, always have a sense of time going)) But lately been thinking on getting something rugged that winds up. My wife made me a paracord bracelet for a birthday present, like for one on my right hand with a watch.

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  7. If it isn’t an imposition, like to share something on self training in land navigation I been doing with anyone interested. Come Ginseng season I saddle up a load bearing kit, based using a mil surplus MOLLE II Fighting Load Carrier Vest. (these guy sell them cheap, $12.99, brand new, ) I like this vest as it affords a ton of MOLLE real-estate, is completely adjustable, 100% customizable, very stable, keeps my mag pouches from joshing around, I run a six mag flapped pouch on my left hip, its a heavy zone, and barely shifts around, the rest are open tacos, the vest breaths well, as the altitude of 2000-4000 ft here in my AO makes you sweat something fierce, but the woods have a pretty tight canopy, so your mostly out of direct sun, like 70 % shade. And there are creeks and springs for replenishing your water supply. I set up the vest as similar to my combat fighting load-out, only equipped for digging ginseng. I add extra canteens to duplicate the weight and distribution of my preferred 10 aluminum GI AR mag assemblage on the combat vest. So there is that commonality between the two systems, and I get to try real world various configurations and shake out the pros and cons of various equipment and techniques, personal modifications and the like, while getting in good terrain nav by map and compass. I been using G-Map to generate satellite and geodetic maps of the traverses I hope will be locations where ginseng grows. There is hundreds of square miles of paper land up in my AO, most is very remote and wild. I go for 2 to 3 day traverses, carry everything, food, H2O, TP you name it. Developed a poor mans bivvy for sleeping. A woodland camo mil surp bivvy bag, got a piece of foiled insulating bubble wrap from homeless depot, a GI sleep pad, cut them to fit the contour of the bottom of the bivvy, using rubber cement glued both at the head for about 12 inches, leaving the remainder loose so I can roll it up in a tight jellyroll, I use a camo surplus woobie as insulation, and a GI camo poncho that I can string up for when it rains, this gives me a nifty very light sleeping bag arraignment which when rolled up is strapped across the top of a MOLLE butt pack and a woodland camo MOLLE sustainment bag which I use as possible bags for food and any roots I dig. Super easy quick to deploy, water resistant, comfy and warm. Basically, on a 2-3 day patrols, I get to reconnoiter my AO, practice my land nav, find and record in a journal all sorts of interesting land features for future reference, practice fire starting, identify flora, and a myriad of great things, its fun, and I make good money when digging ginseng to boot. Win-Win. Sometimes I’ll just go on a day traverse and run my combat load-out with carbine and shovel. Of course it is important to be discreet and unseen, so it hones my Elmer Fud skills: “U got To Be Beeery Carefool Huntwing Wabbit”. I practice linear danger crossings, avoiding detection from people on 4 wheelers or horses, etc. It is great practice. Amazing how quickly you can be surprised on that score if your not paying attention. But with good camo discipline and using terrain and concealment, it is remarkable how close people can pass you, look right where you are, and not even see you if your still and lie down to blend in with the vegetation or other natural features. I’ve discovered multiple hide sights for patrol or bivvy bases, places that have unique features suitable to remaining clandestine with terrain having suitable observation outpost features.
    I’ve brought along the Garmin GPS a few times, and what with the steepness on the ridge lines and tree canopy or down in a bottom hollow, it masks the satellite signals to such a degree picking up 3 or more satellites is almost impossible. So even when it works, the resolution is pretty low, and it is always switching between satellites loosing its signal while it reacquires triangulation fix. But it is an early unit, the newer ones might have better reception, but i don’t know.
    I’ve also worked this practice scenario in fall winter and spring to various extents. Winter is tough, there is little vegetation concealment, and your foot spore leaves a huge marker trail in the snow. Spring and fall is OK, the ground around these parts, what with the dips and rolls, rock formations, blowdowns and such, along with the gray and brown color scales of stick season, you can use cover as concealment fairly well. Its always a system of balances in any case, and I’m learning to adapt to thinking in those terms.
    Hope that helps somebody out. Its difficult to find kindred spirits who are willing to devote time and resources at this level to share in the experience. Maybe by sharing my home grown experiences that is a good thing. Never say die right?

  8. Speaking of jamming, I remember a number of articles about home built spark gap jammers and UAV’s going around couple years ago, and some rumors about hijacking the data links on UAV’s in the middle east using laptops and discovering then intercepting their digital links. In Matt Brackens EFAD trilogy he has UAV’s as a star supporting role, touches on the pros and con’s and the regimes dependence on them. While the NorKs and what they do can’t be ignored, drones are now a fact of life, it would not be unreasonable I would think that jamming and possible countermeasures closer to home come into play. And don’t they rely heavily on GPS for certain operational features? Like return to base or default flight envelopes upon LOS?

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