Hey Captain, Where’s Your Ship? Attacking Vessel Tracking Systems for Fun and Profit presented at HITBSecConf Malaysia 2013

by Marco Balduzzi, Kyle Wihoit, Alessandro Pasta,

Summary : In recent years, automated identification systems (AISes) have been introduced to enhance vessels tracking and provide extra safety to marine traffic, on top of conventional radar installations. AIS, which is currently a mandatory installation for all passenger ships and ships over 300 metric tonnes, works by acquiring GPS coordinates and exchanging vessel’s position, course and information with nearby ships, offshore installation, i.e. harbors and traffic controls, and Internet tracking and visualizing providers.
With an estimated number of 400,000 installation, AIS is currently the best system for collision avoidance, maritime security, aids to navigation and accident investigations.
Given its primary importance in marine traffic safety, we conducted a comprehensive security evaluation of AIS, by tackling it from both a software and a hardware, radio frequency perspective.
In this talk, we share with you our finding, i.e how we have been able to hijack and perform man-in-the-middle attacks on existing vessels, take over AIS communications, tamper with the major online tracking providers and eventually fake our own yacht!.