An analysis and evidence-based reporting group has reported that GNSS attacks are emerging as a viable, disruptive strategic threat.
The Washington-Based Center for Advanced Defense Studies (sic)(C4ADS) has released a report ‘Above Us Only Stars - Exposing GPS Spoofing in Russia and Syria’. Authors are from The University of Texas at Austin and the Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation, with analysis by the Palantir Foundry.
The report concludes that everything from cellular communications, stock trading and basic consumer goods to high-end military systems are vulnerable; by attacking positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) data, state and private activists can cause significant damage to modern militaries, major economies and everyday consumers alike. And, with recent technological advances, the tools and methodologies for conducting this interference are now at a high risk of proliferation.
The report presents findings from a year-long investigation, ending in November 2018, on spoofing legitimate GNSS signals in order to manipulate PNT data. It identifies 9,883 suspected instances across 10 locations that affected 1,311 civilian vessel navigation systems since February 2016. It finds a close correlation between movements of the Russian Head of State and GNSS spoofing events, suspecting that the Russian Federal Protective Service operates mobile spoofing systems.
It also identifies potential technology for facility protection in Moscow as well as the location of a GNSS spoofing transmitter on the Black Sea. And, using data from a scientific sensor on the International Space Station, it identifies activity that poses significant threats to civilian airline GNSS systems in the region.
The report concludes:
‘The Russian Federation has a comparative advantage in the targeted use and development of GNSS spoofing capabilities. However, the low cost, commercial availability and ease of deployment of these technologies will empower not only states, but also insurgents, terrorists and criminals in a wide range of destabilising state-sponsored and non-state illicit networks. GNSS spoofing activities endanger everything from global navigational safety to civilian finance, logistics and communication systems.’