GPS Under Attack

August 8, 2016

GPS spoofing or jamming may not have happened to you (yet) but it is something that should be on your radar.

NBC News reports small, $50 mobile devices are being used to disrupt GPS signals, allowing criminals to knock vehicles and cargo containers off-line. Disrupting the item's GPS monitoring signal from as far away as 5 miles is a simple and cheap way to cover theft and malicious activity.

"We're highly dependent on GPS in pretty much every part of our economy and security, yet it's very easy to disrupt," said Dana Goward, president and executive director of the Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation, which is urging the federal government to move quickly to better protect GPS and to develop a backup system.

Unfortunately, despite urging from various industry groups, law enforcement has been tight-lipped on the frequency of GPS jamming thefts, effectively keeping the situation out of the spotlight.

The multi-agency Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Executive Committee, known as ExCom, has been working for years on a GPS backup solution that would make jamming and spoofing of GPS much harder. It is now developing requirements for a backup timing system — the GPS function most important to critical infrastructure — to be followed by navigation and positioning requirements. The commission is expected to issue recommendations in the fall of 2017, said Nancy Wilochka, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Transportation Department.

Manufacturers of GPS navigation devices also are beginning to incorporate anti-jamming and anti-spoofing measures — such as inertial sensors and antennas that draw from multiple Global Navigational Satellite Systems (GNSS) or can determine the direction from which signals are arriving — into their designs to at least improve the chances that they can withstand a malicious attack or GPS outage.

Read the NBC News article,  GPS Under Attack as Crooks, Rogue Workers Wage Electronic War, to learn more.