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North Korea jamming GPS signals in South; can affect planes, cellphones

By
Elizabeth Shim
South Korea stated Thursday North Korea has been attacking GPS signals, causing disruptions. Photo by David Carillet/Shutterstock
South Korea stated Thursday North Korea has been attacking GPS signals, causing disruptions. Photo by David Carillet/Shutterstock

SEOUL, March 31 (UPI) -- North Korea has launched cyberattacks affecting the South's border regions, producing electronic jamming signals that affect GPS navigation for vehicle transport and aircraft.

South Korea's Science Ministry issued a warning alert Thursday. Seoul also stated at least two aircraft were affected but no accidents resulted from the interference, according to local newspaper Kyunghyang Shinmun.

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"We've detected signs that North Korea has been sending radio waves to the capital area since a month ago to disrupt GPS signals," a senior government official told Yonhap. "North Korea had been sending test waves since last month, but today, they discharged the largest amount."

The cyberattacks were detected Thursday at 7:36 p.m., when South Korea picked up on the interference signals. The radio waves produced about 70 decibels of jammer suppression in Ganghwa Island and Incheon near the border, and about 100 decibels near Hwacheon County in Gangwon Province.

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Incheon is home to South Korea's largest international airport.

The signals appeared to originate from the North Korean city of Haeju and the Mount Kumgang region, which served for a time as a tourist attraction catering to mostly South Korean tourists.

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The disruptions can affect plane navigation and can cause mobile phones to malfunction.

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North Korea has engaged in massive GPS jamming attacks on the South since 2010. In February 2013, North Korea launched an attack on South Korean GPS systems ahead of the inauguration of South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

Between 2010 and 2013, North Korea launched electronic attacks intermittently, causing disruptions for a total of 1,402 South Korean aircraft and ships.

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