4 popular methods of GPS jammers
27 Apr 2010 Jason 3
As reliance on GPS systems continues to grow, some users worry about the potential for tampering that can undermine the system’s accuracy. And it seem the more critical the information being gathered, the greater the concern that a GPS unit could be interfered with by GPS jammers, preventing it from working correctly.
Times when it’s important for GPS devices to work properly…
- Law enforcement agencies using GPS systems to track and monitor sex offenders or violent criminals on parole. Rather than making house visits they track their movements using desktop GPS software that issues alerts if a parolee goes somewhere they shouldn’t.
- Fleet managers using GPS tracking as an anti-theft device to protect assets, lowering their insurance premiums and improving asset recovery if the asset is ever stolen.
- Fleet managers using the devices to monitor unauthorized use of company vehicles after hours or outside designated areas.
- An increasing number of suspicious spouses are covertly tracking their partners to confirm their whereabouts and verify their stories.
So in these cases where there is a very real possibility the person being tracked would quite happily disable the device, what is stopping them purchasing a GPS jammer? And how do they actually work?
GPS jamming and blocking devices
So we’ve looked at some scenarios where a jamming or blocking device may be used. What equipment does someone need to block a GPS signal and prevent it from working? It really depends on the type of device being used to track the asset or individual, whether it’s a real-time tracker or not.
There are a variety of methods that have been used to try and disable, confuse or otherwise render a GPS tracking device useless. Some options are more expensive than others but all have a common objective to block or interfere with the GPS signal.
It is more common to try and block the signal from the GPS satellite since this signal is much weaker than the signal being transmitted by the device. How a GPS unit is tampered with also depends on how secretive it needs to be. Obviously if there is no need for secrecy then someone may just physically destroy the device to render it inoperable!
- GPS jamming gadgets – Commonly sold online, popular models simply plug into a vehicle’s 12v adapter (similar to the one pictured) and interfere with any GPS radio signal within a range of about 30ft.
- Metal shields – A cheaper, non-powered option is wrapping the device in a metal sleeve such as brass mesh or a lead camera film protector. It has been reported that car thieves have been known to transport stolen cars fitted with GPS tracking units inside refrigerated trucks to block the GPS signal.
- GPS spoofing gadgets – These gadgets can send a fake radio signal that overrides the signal being transmitted by the GPS device and reports a fake location. These are not only illegal but can be dangerous to other GPS users, particularly those used in commercial transportation.
- Mobile phone jammers – Many GPS devices report real-time tracking, which uses a wireless carrier to communicate this information to the person doing the tracking. A cell phone jammer can be used to block the signal being transmitted to the wireless carrier preventing status updates being sent. Unlike a GPS jammer this also prevents mobile phone use.
While it only may be a small percentage who attempt to tamper with a legitimate GPS tracking device it is important for users to at least be aware of the methods that GPS jammers may try and use. This can help you to deal with any potential problems this may cause. In next week’s post we will look at five ways you can beat GPS jammers.
Are you currently GPS tracked, such as in a fleet vehicle or truck? Are you happy about it or do you feel justified in interfering with it?