GPS Jamming and Spoofing : a threat to your business ?

October 21, 2019 3:18 pm

GPS jamming and GPS spoofing can cause serious threats to your GPS accuracy. Timing, location, and precision are affected and often you can stay unaware of the problem. Any company that relies on GNSS location or synchronization services is vulnerable to a GNSS spoofing attack, and GNSS services have become ubiquitous for a wide variety of functions. GNSS is used by companies to locate equipment and employees, enable just-in-time delivery to factories, guide construction machinery and improve agricultural productivity by enabling more targeted use of fertilizers and pesticides. In addition to the increased penetration of technology in all sectors of the industry, GNSS also plays a key role in emerging technologies such as autonomous cars and drones. So how do you protect against these phenomena that can harm your business?

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How GPS jamming and spoofing works?

To understand how it is possible to manipulate a GPS one must remember the general principles of satellite navigation. Here’s how it works: Several satellite systems are suspended above the Earth and in geostationary orbit. There are the American GPS, the European program Galileo, the Russian GLONASS and the Chinese BeiDou. Each satellite transmits a continuous radio signal that contains the satellite code and the exact duration of the signal transmission. Your phone, or any other browser, transmits nothing at all but simply receives these radio signals from the space. By analyzing the exact time of reception of each signal, it is possible to calculate the distance between the receiving GPS and each satellite. The receiver can determine the location relative to the satellites after performing some calculations and comparing several signals. Since the coordinates of the satellites are known and invariable, the resolution of these calculations makes it possible to know the position of the GPS receiver on the surface of the Earth.

The problem is that satellite signals are attenuated as soon as they touch the ground, and the antennas of most receivers are not really sensitive. Therefore, they need only to implant a fairly powerful radio transmitter nearby, and to emit a fake technical GPS signal to be able to easily cover the satellites, and to make sure that all the GPS receivers in the vicinity calculate the bad ones. At the same time, the receivers do not have the technical means to determine the direction of the signal, and do not know that the signal comes from a completely different source. Even worse, the equipment to deceive the GPS is not expensive, and all the necessary programs are usually free. In other words, GPS spoofing is not restricted to military or special services, and almost anyone can do it.

Jammers work by blocking the reception of GPS L1 signals on a device. A large number of devices and applications worldwide employ GPS position and timing, which rely on the GPS L1 band.  GPS spoofing is more complicated than jamming, especially for high quality receivers. Indeed, many of them are smart enough to recognize the error and ignore the spoofing signal. With jamming, the signal recovers once the cause is found and GNSS properly corrects itself in most cases. In some spoofing situations, even if their cause is found, the GNSS receiver cannot correct itself right away. The receiver generally retains the last known position, the time and the almanac (location of the satellite parameters). This sometimes makes it difficult to recover the receiver.

 

How to protect your business from GPS jamming and spoofing?

Although this problem has existed for some time, the major obstacle to the development of protective measures is that the key equipment is in space and will not be replaced anytime soon. GPS satellites emit what they emit, and no one can add basic protection tools to signals, such as encryption and certificates. The security measures adopted so far are experimental in nature and cannot be applied on a large scale.

But it is possible to organise your installation differently. For example, installing your GNSS antennas in areas where they are not visible to the public. You could also use blocking antennas to protect against interference and reduce the risk of fraud. Adding redundant antennas is also an to detect problems and move to backup navigation systems. In all cases, you should consider keeping your equipment offline when network connectivity is not required

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Jamming and spoofing can be a threat for every business. But there are several tools on the market that help detect and locate the source of the interference, and you can also find receivers with built-in interference mitigation technology. Drotek F9P RTK GNSS integrates advanced jamming and spoofing detection to achieve highest levels of security.