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Boeing Eyes Blockchain in Bid to Fight GPS Spoofing

A new patent filing from Boeing suggests that the aircraft manufacturing giant is looking at how blockchain can help protect in-flight GPS receivers.

In a patent application released last Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the developer of the world’s most popular airliner details an “onboard backup and anti-spoofing GPS system” that would be used if a plane’s primary system becomes unreliable or nonfunctioning.

GPS “spoofing” is a practice by which counterfeit signals are used to effectively trick other receivers. Such attacks can be used to confuse a GPS receiver about the actual location of other objects.

According to the application, blockchain data would be used as a backup record of information in the event that the anti-spoofing system detects potential trouble.

The filing states:

“The method further determines if the GPS signals, received by the GPS receiver, are spoofed GPS signals and, then, retrieves position data from the block-chain storage module if the GPS receiver is not receiving the GPS signals or is receiving spoofed GPS signals.”

The backup would store environmental information received from the GPS, allowing it to act as a failsafe to prevent pilots from getting lost by providing all of the information a GPS normally would. The system can be applied to any type of vehicle, both manned and unmanned, according to the application.

Further, the design is positioned in the filing as a response to a lack of fail-over technologies that can verify data about a vehicle’s location. As a result, if a GPS platform does suffer an outage or spoofing attack, “navigators, air traffic controllers, and mission planners are unable to adjust and respond with confidence.”

Image Credit: Maxene Huiyu / Shutterstock.com

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