The debate around the idea of hacking into AIS has been circling for some time. There are now claims made by data providers in the industry trying to dispel the rumours around being able to easily spoof AIS messages.
We've touched on the subject before and you can read our older blog post here
While we have discussed this in the past, we now wanted to make a couple things very clear.
- AIS is designed to be OPEN, not secure. It is necessary for AIS to be open in order to fulfill its primary function- collision avoidance.
- When ships are out on the water, their backups to AIS are radar and failing that, the window.
- It's imperative that competent authorities source data that is trusted (either through encryption or other means) and that they not use open source data for critical decisions.
Satellite AIS, Radar, Optical Imaging, LRIT and Behavioural analysis tools are all potential ways to verify any given data point. These tools exist so that maritime authorities can be confident in the data they are working with.
What is extremely difficult to discern is subtle spoofing (e.g. when a ship alters their position just enough so that they appear just outside an EEZ). This is where another solution is required in order to ensure true maritime situational awareness.
Based on routinely captured spectrum data from our satellites, exactEarth has been researching signal processing techniques that can provide an autonomous estimation of a vessel’s position – independent from any GPS data the vessel is transmitting.
This revolutionary research is now being turned into an operational ‘positional variance’ (PV) component of our ground segment service that will be commercially available in the near future.