Reuters reported that South Korea has begun the development of earth-based navigation technology as an alternative to the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) to protect its ships from cyber attacks.

The earth-based navigation technology is known as eLoran, and is an upgraded version of the radio technology originally used for communication purposes during World War II.

The decision to develop the technology follows an incident last year that saw the early return of hundreds of South Korean fishing vessels to its ports after their GPS signals were jammed by hackers, allegedly originating from North Korea.

Russia and the UK have already explored the possibility of using radio navigation technology of various types, with the US also reportedly planning to follow suit.

The US House of Representatives passed a bill containing provisions for setting up an eLoran system in July.

Vessels currently make use of GPS systems and other similar devices that depend on satellite signals for operation, which can potentially be jammed by hackers.

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These signals are also transmitted from 12,500mi above the Earth, meaning they are often weak in nature.

Unlike aeroplanes, ships do not usually possess a back-up navigation system and so there are chances of collision if the GPS stops operating correctly.

"The signals transmitted by the device are considered much tougher to jam, as its average signal is estimated to be 1.3 million times stronger than a typical GPS signal."

The eLoran system is the latest version of long-range navigation system used in World War II and the signals transmitted by the device are considered much tougher to jam, as its average signal is estimated to be 1.3 million times stronger than a typical GPS signal.

US engineer Brad Parkinson, known as the father of GPS, has also lent his support to the use of eLoran as back-up to GPS and Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS).

South Korea is currently working to develop three testing sites for the eLoran system by 2019.

Image: A ship. Photo: courtesy of Juliana Phang / Flickr.