Stealing a drone by spoofing, is it that easy?
Spoofing is one of the ways Iran could have gotten access to the drone they received late last year, the one that landed unharmed in hostile territory with barely a scratch. It looks like the U.S. military is concerned about this kind of attack, as they have seen it fit to saddle Rockwell Collins with the task of developing technology "to locate and classify an adversary's attempts to interfere with GPS signals and disrupt military operations."
GPS spoofing isn't new, it's been around for as long as GPS, but with UAVs and other GPS guided unmanned vehicles becoming more popular this sort of misdirection is now a threat. GPS spoofing is simple, a device pretends that it is a GPS satellite and tells another device, such as a drone, that it is at a certain location, rather than its actual position. Since many unmanned vehicles use GPS as part of their navigation system, it is possible to force them to behave in certain ways. Tell a UAV it's too high and it will attempt to go lower, tell it it's too far to the East and it will move West, simple stuff.
Now, GPS spoofing isn't necessarily a serious threat to the military, which uses encrypted GPS signals and several methods of navigation on important systems (though if Iran actually spoofed the drone down it is, we may never know). GPS spoofing is more of a minor annoyance to the military. The problem is that civillian airspace is going to be opened up to drones eventually, and in the next few years it might not be unusual to see drones being used by police forces or even commercial companies.
GPS spoofing is a threat because GPS is cheap and easy to use, making it popular in these unmanned vehicles that could be flying around your neighborhood in the future.
Cyber warfare is a serious thing, and it's good to see the defense industry preparing itself for some of the newer forms of attack that have emerged.