Two grey hat hacker collectives joined forces and launched an operation called Op Ivy

Most Internet users are aware of the terms spoofing, especially because this technique is widely used in spam campaigns. Now, another type of spoofing, called GPS spoofing, may be used by cybercriminals to defraud financial institutions.

GPS spoofing and GPS spoofers, the devices that create fake GPS signals, are not really new.

They’re being used for a while by individuals who are monitored through GPS and who want to keep their location hidden, but Todd Humphreys, an Assistant Professor Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics from the University of Texas, believes that the technology can be used to sabotage institutions such as stock exchanges.

He explained for Wired that stock exchanges worldwide must be permanently synchronized time-wise and, for this task to be accomplished, they all have GPS antennas on top of their buildings.

If an ill-intended individual would direct a GPS spoofer towards the antenna, major damage could be inflicted on the high-frequency trading systems on which these institutions rely.

One of the things that could have serious consequences on the trading processes performed by stock exchanges is time sabotage, an incident that would make the automated trading systems unable to operate accordingly.

An even worse scenario is one in which a company or an individual uses GPS spoofing to alter the timestamp of a particular market with the purpose of gaining a time advantage that would allow them to commit fraud. In the world of stock markets, even an advantage of a few milliseconds could be utilized in one’s advantage.

For the time being, no high-profile attack has been recorded, but the technology is widely available and it’s already being used by small groups, and the expert believes that it’s only a matter of time until criminals begin relying on these methods on a larger scale. 

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