Hijackers get smart with GPS

By Thandi Skade

Imagine surviving the trauma of a hijacking, only to come home a
few days later to find your house has been broken into and ransacked.

Your initial thoughts may be that it's a coincidence or perhaps
a case of seriously bad luck.

But this may not necessarily be the case if you are the owner of
a global positioning system (GPS), a device that is quickly gaining

popularity among motorists around the country.

People who have difficulty reading a normal road map describe it
as a "God-send" as signal information from 24 satellites in orbit is

transmitted straight to the device, which then calculates the
user's exact location and displays it on the unit's electronic map.

But as useful as the device is in helping motorists to find
their way, criminals have now found a way of using the device against
its owner.

ADT Armed Response has issued a security alert to all GPS owners
urging them not to programme their home addresses into the device, as

hijackers are now using the device to figure out where their
victims live.

"Hijackers are now identifying victims' residences by simply
selecting or typing the word 'home' as a destination," said ADT Joburg's managing director Roy Rawlings.

"This results in GPS systems directing hijackers straight to
victims' houses."

Instead of programming your home address onto the system,
Rawlings suggests that you programme a nearby location, such as a petrol
station or shopping centre.

In this way, criminals will have no way of figuring out your
physical address.

Rawlings further advises GPS owners "to activate the lockout or
security feature of their GPS system, which will help prevent anyone
else from operating it.

"This means that when you switch off your car, your GPS system
will also shut down.

"When the vehicle is restarted and the GPS system is
reactivated, a pin or code will be required," making it impossible for a
criminal to access your information.

This article was originally published on page 9 of The
Star on January 29, 2008


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