When reading this article I couldn't help but think of the first time I'd ever heard of GPS spoofing. It was back in 1997 while I was watching the James Bond film "Tomorrow Never Dies".
The film follows power-hungry media mogul Elliot Carver. Carver plans to use a stolen GPS encoder obtained by his henchman, cyber terrorist Henry Gupta, to provoke war between China and the United Kingdom. In the film we see Gupta manipulate the GPS signal using the encoder, to send the British frigate HMS Devonshire off-course into Chinese-held waters, the South China Sea.
Could the very same technique have caused Monday’s crash involving the USS John McCain as well as three other incidents involving US navy ships in that area?
According to Popular Mechanics, probably not. That said, the chief of naval operations Admiral Jon Richardson said: "There’s no reason to think it was a cyber attack, but they’re looking into it." So clearly the US Navy is not ruling it out.
Could a military vessel be hacked? In essence, what if GPS spoofing or administrative lockout caused personnel to be unaware of any imminent danger or unable to respond? The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) says there’s no reason to think it was a cyber-attack, but they’re looking into it.