The GPS travels more and more across the planet. Supply chains, ocean shipments, docking at ports and even our daily movements in cars, bicycles and walking through cities depend on a constellation of satellites that hang over us so that all this activity works in synchrony.
However, more and more, GPS is under attack. GPS forgery, where signals from GPS satellites are falsified to send fake data, can prevent devices from obtaining a precise location or any location. One of our Newsdio collaborators, Mark Harris, wrote a great piece in the MIT Technology Review about a recent series of fake incidents in Shanghai, where shipping ships suddenly jumped around the port as different signals were detected.
In addition to the most direct attacks on GPS, the monopoly of the US GPS system. UU. It is also under increasing pressure. China has launched its own satellite system known as Beidou, and other countries such as Russia, Japan and India, as well as the European Union, are increasingly trying to increase the United States system with their own technology.
GPS is a technology in a field known as positioning, navigation and synchronization (PNT) services. GPS is perhaps best known for its ability to locate a device on a map, but it is also crucial for synchronizing clocks, particularly in extremely sensitive operations where milliseconds are crucial.
The growing economic importance of technology, along with the increasing risk faced by bad actors, has forced the Trump administration to act. In a new executive order signed yesterday, the administration created a framework for the Commerce Department to take the initiative in identifying threats to the existing PNT system in the United States, and also guarantees that procurement processes throughout the government take into account those threats.
This process is presented in the form of "PNT profiles", which describes the executive order:
PNT profiles will allow the public and private sectors to identify systems, networks and assets that depend on PNT services; identify appropriate PNT services; detect the interruption and manipulation of PNT services; and manage the risks associated with the systems, networks and assets that depend on PNT services. Once available, PNT profiles will be reviewed every 2 years and, as necessary, updated.
In other words, these profiles are designed to ensure that the systems work together and are authenticated, so that the systems do not have (obvious) security holes in their design.
That is a good first step, but it is unlikely to move the needle to protect this infrastructure. Booz Vice President Allen Hamilton, Kevin Coggins, who directs the firm's GPS resilience practice, explained to me last year that "in a system where you simply blindly integrate these things and don't have an architecture that takes security into account … then you are only increasing your threat surface. " PNT profiles could reduce that area for threats.
In a new statement about Trump's executive order, Coggins said that:
As a next step, the federal government should consider standards between industries that demand system diversity, spectral diversity and zero-trust architectures.
The diversity of the system addresses the dependence of a single system, such as GPS: some alternatives of PNT depend on GPS, therefore, they will fail if GPS is interrupted.
Spectral diversity implies the use of additional frequencies to transport PNT information, such as in systems that use eLORAN or multi-GNSS, instead of having a single frequency that is easy to identify.
Finally, zero-confidence architectures would allow PNT receivers to validate navigation and timing signals before using them, rather than blindly relying on what they are told.
This security area has also received more attention from companies and ventures. Expect more action from all parties, as these emerging threats to the economy are fully taken into account.