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107 West Federal Street, Suite 4 Middleburg, VA 20117

The Need

GPS/GNSS: The Invisible Utility
GPS/GNSS has become a ubiquitous capability, relied on by nearly every sector of the global economy and critical infrastructure. With its highly accurate, global signals GPS/GNSS has enabled major advances in geolocation technologies and high speed networking. With over 5 billion enabled devices globally, and over 1 billion in the United States, GPS/GNSS is integrated into every aspect of our lives and has become an "invisible" and essential utility.

GPS/GNSS: A Critical, Yet Vulnerable System

Despite the advantages of GPS/GNSS, signal strength is its primary weakness. GPS/GNSS satellites orbit at 12,000 miles above the earth, transmitting their signal at approximately 50 watts of power. This is the equivalent of trying to see a 50 watt light bulb that is 12,000 miles away. In other words, by the time the GPS/GNSS signals reach earth, their power is approximately 1 millionth of a billionth of a watt.

What Can Affect GPS/GNSS?

GPS/GNSS signals are weak and easily disrupted, blocked, and high-jacked. Signal disruption can manifest in different forms and can be caused by natural or unintentional means (interference/multi-path). Unfortunately, and far more often, disruptions are caused by intentional and hostile acts, which are usually in the form of jamming or spoofing.

What Can Affect GPS/GNSS?

GPS/GNSS signals are weak and easily disrupted, blocked, and high-jacked. Signal disruption can manifest in different forms and can be caused by natural or unintentional means (interference/multi-path). Unfortunately, and far more often, disruptions are caused by intentional and hostile acts, which are usually in the form of jamming or spoofing.

Threats to GPS/GNSS: Jamming (intentional and unintentional)

GPS/GNSS disruptions take many forms; from the natural to the nefarious. Jamming devices (jammers) are inexpensive radio frequency transmitters that intentionally obstruct, jam, or interfere with GPS/GNSS systems by sending out a signal which is more powerful than the GPS/GNSS signal. GPS/GNSS jammers are commercially available and cost less than $200. The jamming market is expected to exceed $4B annually by 2023.

Unintentional jamming can result when the GPS signal is blocked or unavailable, for example, when indoors or in urban canyons (multi-path diffraction of the signal) or through immovable obstructions and even weather events.

Threats to GPS/GNSS: Spoofing

Spoofing is a more sinister and dangerous problem. GPS spoofing is the transmitting of a signal that is stronger than and mimics the appearance of a genuine GPS signal. The spoofed signal takes over a GPS enabled system or device and causes the GPS receiver in the device to display an altered position or time chosen by the attacker. The GPS enabled device displays an incorrect position or time while that GPS enabled device believes the information from the spoofing device is genuine. Essentially, a spoofing attack will tell a person located in Washington DC that they are in New York City or any location the attacker chooses. Spoofing can also affect the timing aspects of GPS, causing a stock trading firm to believe it’s 1 minute before the market opens when in fact it’s 1 minute after the market is open.

Threats to GPS/GNSS: Spoofing

Spoofing is a more sinister and dangerous problem. GPS spoofing is the transmitting of a signal that is stronger than and mimics the appearance of a genuine GPS signal. The spoofed signal takes over a GPS enabled system or device and causes the GPS receiver in the device to display an altered position or time chosen by the attacker. The GPS enabled device displays an incorrect position or time while that GPS enabled device believes the information from the spoofing device is genuine. Essentially, a spoofing attack will tell a person located in Washington DC that they are in New York City or any location the attacker chooses. Spoofing can also affect the timing aspects of GPS, causing a stock trading firm to believe it’s 1 minute before the market opens when in fact it’s 1 minute after the market is open.

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