Russia accuses of spoofing GPS and other navigation satellite systems

Get a free Techzine subscription!

Russia is accused of blocking, hijacking and disrupting signals from global navigation satellite systems. The Center for Advanced Defense (C4ADS) claims this in a recently published report.

C4ADS is a not-for-profit organization, dedicated to providing data-driven analysis and evidence-based reporting on global conflicts and transnational security issues. It claims to have documented a series of attacks designed to block or disrupt signals from global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo).

According to the organisation, Russia is behind the so-called GNSS spoofing. The report shows at least twelve GNSS disruptions in Russia and Syria, which were allegedly carried out by Russia in 2016.

Using public data and commercial technologies, we detected and analysed patterns of GNSS spoofing in the Russian Federation, Crimea and Syria. These show that the Russian Federation is building a comparative advantage in the targeted use and development of GNSS window of opportunity. All this with the aim of achieving tactical and strategic objectives both at home and abroad, according to the report.

Multiple incidents

GNSS spoofing is an attempt to send false position indications to a receiver via global satellite networks. In recent years, incidents have already occurred on a small scale, which were caused by GNSS spoofing.

For example, more than twenty ships in the Black Sea lost course in 2013. Evidence of this was provided by the fact that the International Space Station (ISS) collected satellite data for a year. According to security specialist Sophos, the station detected 9,883 suspected spoofing incidents along this route at ten global, military locations. The Crimea, Syria and the Russian Federation would have been part of this. Since February 2016, more than 1,311 civil ships from civil satellite networks are reported to have received the wrong position coordinates.

The Norwegian Ministry of Defence also reported GNSS spoofing last November. Russian troops would have disturbed the NATO exercise in the Arctic with GPS signals. In addition, last year the US Department of Transport warned about GPS interference in the eastern Mediterranean.

Russia is certainly not the only country that would deliberately block and disrupt global navigation satellite systems. For example, in 2016 South Korea claimed interference from North Korea and the US Army also carried out GPS-faulted training exercises.

Worrying development

Due to the relatively cheap technology behind spoofing attacks, there is a good chance that even small groups and lone wolves will focus on this. The University of Texas demonstrated in 2013 that with an investment of 2,000 dollars they could manipulate the signal of a million-dollar hunt. This is an alarming development, given that GNSS technology has already been introduced in many sectors. These include the energy sector, the financial sector, telematics, the police and the transport sector.

On the other hand, Sophos claims that with the right technology, GNSS spoofing can be detected quite easily. A collaboration between C4ADS and researchers from the University of Austin showed how GNSS receivers based on low earth orbit satellites can be used to detect and geo-locate interference signals worldwide.

This news article was automatically translated from Dutch to give Techzine.eu a head start. All news articles after September 1, 2019 are written in native English and NOT translated. All our background stories are written in native English as well. For more information read our launch article.