Quest News™

October 01, 2015

The Latest Cargo Risk: GPS Jamming


Global Positioning Systems (GPS) has been used widely in the cargo industry, especially in international trade. As a means of protecting supply chain vulnerabilities, it is ideal. The technology is affordable and worthwhile to cargo carriers. However, in an effort to thwart these security measures, thieves have been able to jam GPS signals through the use of small, unobtrusive devices.

GPS Jammers

These GPS jamming devices are able to disrupt GPS logging or tracking systems. Larger jammers, with a spread up to several hundred feet, are known to jam Wi-Fi and cell phone signals as well. These devices are banned by federal law, so theft isn’t the only crime being committed in these acts.  Although these devices are not always effective, it’s important to note the risk involved with these tech-savvy cargo theft groups.

Domestic and International Risk

According to FreightWatch International, there were two instances of GPS jamming cargo thefts in 2014 in the US that were apprehended by law enforcement. Each was committed by the same theft group in Georgia. In these cases, the cargo was recovered.

In October of 2014, the FBI’s Cyber Division released a paper notifying the cargo industry to threats not only domestically, but abroad. Cargo theft groups in China have been utilizing GPS jammers in automotive shipping. There were 46 instances of this variety wherein the thieves placed the jammers inside the cargo containers. The devices themselves cost a meager $14.00.

Awareness and Countermeasures

The most important thing to take away from this information is awareness of this new form of theft. Cargo threats are only going to grow as affordable technology advances. Eventually, countermeasures will be created to combat GPS jammers. This should not deter the use of GPS devices, especially when shipping high value loads. Avalon’s Combined Transit Liability (CTL) Policy offers a Reduced Deductible enhancement when tracking devices are properly utilized and the appropriate action is promptly taken when alarms occur. The CTL’s Reduced Deductible enhancement may cut your deductible by half. Contact your Avalon representative to learn more.

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