Enlarge/ Öppna Skolplattformen hoped to succeed where Skolplattform had failed. (credit: Comstock | Getty Images)
Christian Landgren’s patience was running out. Every day the separated father of three was wasting precious time trying to get the City of Stockholm’s official school system, Skolplattform, to work properly. Landgren would dig through endless convoluted menus to find out what his children were doing at school. If working out what his children needed in their gym kit was a hassle, then working out how to report them as sick was a nightmare. Two years after its launch in August 2018, the Skolplattform had become a constant thorn in the side of thousands of parents across Sweden’s capital city. “All the users and the parents were angry,” Landgren says.
The Skolplattform wasn’t meant to be this way. Commissioned in 2013, the system was intended to make the lives of up to 500,000 children, teachers, and parents in Stockholm easier—acting as the technical backbone for all things education, from registering attendance to keeping a record of grades. The platform is a complex system that’s made up of three different parts, containing 18 individual modules that are maintained by five external companies. The sprawling system is used by 600 preschools and 177 schools, with separate logins for every teacher, student, and parent. The only problem? It doesn’t work.
Abuses of location technology might just result in hot political disputes. According to Wired, SkyWatch and Global Fishing Watch have conducted studies showing that over 100 warship locations have been faked since August 2020, including the British aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth and the US destroyer Roosevelt. In some cases, the false data showed the vessels entering disputed waters or nearing other countries’ naval bases — movements that could spark international incidents.
The research team found the fakes by comparing uses of the automatic identification system (AIS, a GPS-based system to help prevent collisions) with verifiable position data by using an identifying pattern. All of the false info came from shore-based AIS receivers while satellites showed the real positions, for instance. Global Fishing Watch had been investigating fake AIS positions for years, but this was the first time it had seen falsified data for real ships.
It’s not certain who’s faking locations and why. However, analysts said the data was characteristic of a common perpetrator that might be Russia. Almost all of the affected warships were from European countries or NATO members, and the data included bogus incursions around Kaliningrad, the Black Sea, Crimea and other Russian interests. In theory, Russia could portray Europe and NATO as aggressors by falsely claiming those rivals sent warships into Russian seas.
Russia has historically denied hacking claims. It has a years-long history of using fake accounts and misinformation to stoke political tensions that further its own ends, though. And if Russia is connected, the faked warship locations might be a significant escalation of that strategy. Even though such an approach might not lead to shooting matches, it could get disconcertingly close.
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