NATO warships AIS spoofing

August 2021
Last updated: January 2022

WIRED reports that the locations of over 100 warships, including the Royal Navy's HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier strike group, have been manipulated and their positions falsified.

Researchers at environmental NGOs SkyTruth and Global Fishing Watch discovered that the automatic identification systems (AIS) of the warships had been altered in order to suggest they were located in places they were not.

This kind of manipulation increases the risk of safety incidents, and creates disinformation about warship positions and operations. Commentators point to Russia as the most likely culprit.

Onboard AIS systems broadcast a ship's location, course and speed, and show the same data from other vessels.

Operator: Royal Navy; Swedish Navy; United States Navy
International Maritime Organization
Country: Russia
Govt - defence
Purpose: Track vessel movements
Technology: Automatic identification system (AIS)
Issue: Security; Safety; Mis/disinformation; Dual/multi-use