CYBERSECURITY

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How To Protect GPS

“The Father of GPS,” Dr. Brad Parkinson recently gave a presentation on the three most important things that must be done to protect GPS.

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A powerful but little recognized method of cyberattack, GPS disruption can disable end-use devices, interfere with communications links, and provide hazardously misleading information to users and databases. Because GPS signals undergird nearly every technology, DHS officials have called GPS “a single point of failure for critical infrastructure.”

Denial of GPS service. Disabling GPS reception by jamming (transmitting a stronger signal on the same frequency) is relatively simple because of GPS’s very weak signal. Tens of thousands of privacy seekers and criminals in the United States use jammers to disrupt GPS reception over small areas every day. U.S. adversaries regularly deny GPS services across larger areas overseas for their own purposes.

Disabling Networks Virtually all networks depend upon the highly precise time signal from the Global Positioning System (GPS) for synchronization and spectrum efficiency. When GPS signals are disrupted, backup clocks are used to maintain synchronization. Over time these clocks will drift apart and portions of networks will begin to fail. There are over a million backup clocks of varying qualities in U.S. wireless networks. Some can maintain sufficient time for several days, others for only a few minutes.

Bad, Misleading Data & Information Many IT applications need GPS location and time information to function properly. When GPS signals are jammed, before receivers show faults, they will often accept the jamming signal as valid for some period of time and provide users bad information. “Spoofing” is providing false signals to a receiver to cause it to display bad information. Originally difficult to accomplish, spoofing became much easier and more popular in 2015 after a presentation at a hackers convention gave step-by-step instructions on how to build a spoofing device. The presenter also sold kits for about $300. Since the advent of “Pokemon Go” in 2016, location deception has become even more common.

The RNT Foundation is working to safeguard GPS services by advocating policies and systems to Protect, Toughen, and Augment them.

Here are a few of the many resources we have available on GPS and cybersecurity:

Presidential Cyber Commission Recommendations

Forbes Article on Hacking and Jamming

GPS Interference – A Cyber Problem

Free Presentation Download

How To Protect GPS

“The Father of GPS,” Dr. Brad Parkinson recently gave a presentation on the three most important things that must be done to protect GPS.

Download your free copy here.

(All fields are required)

We respect your privacy. We will not sell, rent or share your email address.