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How Do We Keep GPS Safe From Sabotage?


Using an automotive GPS system.

Stanford University professor Per Enge is working to combat potential threats to autonomous navigation systems, such as navigation jammers and spoofers.

Credit: Rafal Olechowski/iStock

As the number and types of self-navigating vehicles grows, hackers will be able to wreak havoc on highways, airways, and sea lanes by jamming and counterfeiting the navigation signals guiding autonomous cars, airplanes, and ships. Stanford University professor Per Enge is working to combat potential threats to autonomous navigation systems, such as navigation jammers and spoofers.

Navigation jammers rely on strong radio signals to interfere with signals from the Global Positioning System (GPS), while spoofers send counterfeit navigation signals to misdirect a vehicle.

In a recent study, Enge and colleagues described a backup navigation system for aircraft if GPS is blocked. The system would use existing distance-measuring equipment to triangulate the aircraft's position using the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's network of antenna stations. Enge also proposes using measurements from a vehicle's accelerometer to detect spoofing signals.

In addition, Enge is experimenting with Advanced Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring systems, which would check the accuracy of incoming navigation signals by comparing them to signals sent from other navigation satellites.

"Many have predicted that cyber threats mean that GPS has already reached the peak of its usefulness," Enge says. "My strong feeling is that GPS is much tougher than critics realize."

From Stanford University
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