Leave it to college kids to hijack a 213-foot yacht.

A research team from the University of Texas at Austin tested their engineering skills this summer by creating a false GPS signal to force the yacht off course. The test was intended to determine the likelihood of such an attack and to identify possible ways to detect potential threats.

The team was invited aboard the White Rose of Drachs as it traveled from Monaco to Rhodes, Greece, in June. The experiment was conducted about 30 miles off the coast of Italy.


White Rose of Drachs

From the yacht’s upper deck, graduate students broadcasted a faint GPS signal from their spoofing device toward the ship’s GPS antennas. The team’s counterfeit signals gradually overpowered the legitimate GPS signals until they ultimately obtained control of the ship’s navigation system.

“I didn’t know, until we performed this experiment, just how possible it is to spoof a marine vessel and how difficult it is to detect this attack.” said Todd Humphreys, an assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering who led the experiment.

You can read more from the full story here.

Are you at all surprised this happened at the college level?