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U.S. Air Force: GPS a security risk; alternatives needed

U.S. Air Force: GPS a security risk; alternatives needed

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The United States must lessen its dependence on the Global Positioning System, or GPS, and develop alternatives to it, a top Air Force general said this week.

The United States must lessen its dependence on the Global Positioning System, or GPS, and develop alternatives to it, a top Air Force general said this week.

Gen. Norton Schwartz, the Air Force Chief of Staff, reportedly said at a conference this week that GPS signals are vulnerable in times of war -- and because U.S. forces rely so heavily on them, could be a security risk.

According to military officials, GPS has been jammed or interfered with recently, a reminder that the constellation of satellites -- and the weaponry that uses it-- are hardly protected from being compromised.

The civilian adoption of GPS has grown considerably as the popularity of the Internet has increased. Portable electronics such as your watch, alarm clock, phone or car rely on the signal for accurate location-based services.

The answer? Passing around disconnected but accurate digital maps, according to a DoD Buzz report.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon's 2010 Space Posture Review has tentatively recommended that the U.S. abandon building five more GPS satellites and instead look to Europe's proposed Galileo global navigation satellite system, according to the report.

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure