$100 Device Jams Newark Airport's Guidance System

Dennis Faas's picture

Ever get the feeling you're being watched? Those people involved in the transportation industry get that feeling a lot, primarily because their vehicles are often tracked by employers using global positioning system (GPS) devices.

To avoid this eerie feeling, a New Jersey-based engineer began using a GPS 'jammer'. The only problem: every time he went near New Jersey's Newark Liberty Airport, his jammer screwed up the facility's critical satellite systems.

Cheap Jammer Throws Off Airport's GPS Guidance System

Until recently Greg Bojczak was an employee for Wharton, New Jersey-based engineering and construction firm Tilcon. He didn't like the idea of having his employer know his whereabouts, so he began using an illegal GPS jammer in his work truck.

It's unclear how much Bojczak paid for the device, though CNET reports many GPS jammers are available for around $100. (Source: cnet.com)

It's also unclear if Bojczak's employer was duped by the device. What we do know is that every time he got near Newark Liberty, Bojczak's jammer interfered with the airport's recently installed 'Smartpath' GPS-guidance system.

That prompted an investigation by federal agents who quickly figured out that Bojczak was behind the problem. The government has since told Bojczak that he's on the hook for a staggering $31,875 fine.

Clearly, the federal government is not taking the matter lightly.

"It's a very significant issue," insists attorney and aviation expert Brian Alexander. (Source: cbslocal.com)

"To the extent these devices are out there and illegal, [government officials] have to send a message and pursue those jammers to make sure that they're not anywhere near the airports, not being used at the airports," Alexander added.

Case Raises Major Security Concerns

Thankfully, it doesn't appear Bojczak's GPS jamming put anyone at Newark Liberty Airport in danger. However, the incident has reportedly cost Bojczak his job at Tilcon.

Of course, the bigger concern is this: exactly how much damage could be done using one of those cheap GPS jammers?

For an industry that has drastically overhauled its security in the past twelve years, it doesn't make much sense to install GPS guidance systems that can be boggled by a device that costs less than an Apple iPod.

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