The United States Navy is once again making use of the navigational instrument known as sextants, because unlike modern radar and GPS equipment, the traditional tool cannot be hacked.
The Navy discontinued the use of sextants in 1998 since GPS made the equipment outdated. The old-fashioned equipment requires a clear sight of the stars or the sun, an accurate time-telling device and a large amount of math to obtain an accurate position.
Meanwhile, a GPS can give a user an accurate location in a mere instant.
Navy navigation expert Lt. Commander Ryan Rogers said, “We went away from celestial navigation because computers are great. The problem is there's no backup. We know there are cyber vulnerabilities. In the event that we had to go into a national emergency, we would probably have to shut the GPS down because it can be used by potential enemies."
Even if a ship shuts down its GPS, the enemy might be able to track its position anyway using positioning satellites. Still, the potential of a ship’s GPS system being hacked by enemy forces is a very serious matter.
Meanwhile, the United States Navy is actively recruiting cyber warfare engineers in an effort to protect its fleet from hackers. The Navy also has a major contract with defense contractor Raytheon to strengthen its cyber defenses.
The sextants will provide Navy ships with a reliable backup in the event of a failure due to a successful attack by the enemy.
Commercial aircraft have also been known to carry sextants in case their radar systems malfunction.
Luckily for people in the Navy, they won’t have to manually perform calculations when using a sextant, as such calculations will be performed by a computer.
However, the announcement of the return of sextants by the Navy shows that it is taking the potential of enemy hackers very seriously.