Unusual aircraft GPS interference

Finland’s Transport and Communications Agency, Traficom, has issued a public announcement informing of an unusual spike in GPS interference near the country’s eastern border.
According to reports, the interference isn’t limited to Finland but also affects Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and the broader Baltic region.

This spoofing is relatively easy because the actual GPS signal is weak. There are very cheap short distancr GPS jammers. The cheapest equipment required to perform GPS spoofing attacks costs a couple of hundred USD (for example HackRF One and computer), while the software to simulate realistic GPS satellite radio signals is generally widely available. Please note that disturbing GPS signals is illegal in very many countries.

Reas more:
Finnish govt agency warns of unusual aircraft GPS interference
https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/technology/finnish-govt-agency-warns-of-unusual-aircraft-gps-interference/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/majordomo/permalink/10162357184499522/

16 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Big Web Security Firms Ditch Russia, Leaving Internet Users Open To More Kremlin Snooping https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2022/03/11/russians-exposed-to-more-surveillance-and-cybercrime-as-web-security-giants-leave-over-ukraine-invasion/
    The departure of the two companies, Avast, a $6 billion antivirus provider based in the Czech Republic, and Utah-based website-certification firm DigiCert, will further isolate the country of 145 million people. “We are horrified at Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, where the lives and livelihoods of innocent people are at severe risk, and where all freedoms have come under attack, ”
    Avast CEO Ondrej Vlcek wrote on Thursday.

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Finnish govt agency warns of unusual aircraft GPS interference https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/technology/finnish-govt-agency-warns-of-unusual-aircraft-gps-interference/
    Finland’s Transport and Communications Agency, Traficom, has issued a public announcement informing of an unusual spike in GPS interference near the country’s eastern border. Traficom’s Director, Jari Pöntinen, commented the following:. Flying is still safe. Airlines have procedures they follow if the GPS signal is lost. Aircraft can use other systems to navigate and land safely. Air traffic control supports aircraft pilots with the help of other landing systems. As the agency’s announcement concludes, the source of the interference is difficult to determine from the ground, as the inserted signals are targeted on the air, and their effects are so momentary and local that any verification is practically impossible. also:
    https://www.traficom.fi/en/news/unusual-amount-reports-about-gps-interference-near-eastern-border-finland
    - – Unusual amount of reports about GPS interference near the eastern border of Finland

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Itä-Suomen GPS-häiriöillä vaikutuksia myös hätäpuheluiden paikantamiseen https://www.is.fi/digitoday/art-2000008676688.html
    ITÄ-SUOMESSA ilmenneillä GPS-häiriöillä on ollut jonkinlaisia vaikutuksia myös hätäpuheluiden paikantamiseen. Asiasta kertoo Hätäkeskuslaitos tiedotteessa. Hätäkeskuslaitoksen johtokeskuksen päällikkö Lasse Matilaisen mukaan häiriöiden vaikutukset hätäpuheluiden paikantamiseen ovat olleet kuitenkin hyvin pieniä. – Häirintä ei ole kohdistunut hätäkeskuksen toimintaan vaan GPS-verkkoon, jota hyödynnetään muun muassa hätäpuheluiden paikannuksessa, tiedotteessa kerrotaan.

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    GPS-häirintä ei uhkaa Suomen 5G-verkkoja
    https://etn.fi/index.php/13-news/13287-gps-haeirintae-ei-uhkaa-suomen-5g-verkkoja

    Liikenne- ja viestintäministeriö selvittää parhaillaan, kuka olisi Itä-Suomessa lentoliikennettä haitanneen GPS-häirinnän takana. Moni uskoo, että häirinnän takana oli itäinen, sotaa käyvä naapurimme. On kuitenkin hyvä tietää, ettei GPS-häirintä uhkaa esimerkiksi 5G- tai muiden mobiiliverkkojen toimintaa.

    Sinänsä huoli 5G-verkkojen toiminnasta ei ole triviaali. Tukiasemat täytyy synkronoida keskenään, jotta verkko toimisi halutulla tavalla. Aika- ja vaihesynkronoinnin mahdollistava kellosignaali voidaan tuoda tukiasemaan GPS-satelliitista, mutta se ei enää pitkään aikaan ole ollut ainoa tai edes pääasiallinen tapa.

    5G-verkot ovat myös ehdottomasti osa kriittistä infrastruktuuria ja siten niiden varmistaminen osa Suomen huoltovarmuutta. Tämä näkyy myös Traficomin viime heinäkuun alussa voimaantulleessa määräyksessä, jossa operaattorit velvoitetaan varmistamaan verkkojen palvelukyky erilaisissa tilanteissa. Määräykseen sisältyy vaatimus varmistaa verkon aika- ja vaihesynkronointi.

    Asiaa koskevan määräys tuli voimaan 1.7.2021. Sen mukaan “satelliittipaikannusjärjestelmän (GNSS) kautta saatava aika- ja vaihesynkronointi on varmistettava kiinteän verkon kautta siten, että aika- ja vaihesynkronointi toimii riittävällä tarkkuudella vähintään kaksi viikkoa, jos synkronointi satelliittipaikannusjärjestelmän kautta ei ole käytettävissä.”

    Traficomin erityisasiantuntija Petteri Jokela painottaa, ettei esimerkiksi 5G-toimilupaehdoissa ole mitään mainintaa synkronointimenetelmistä. Operaattoreiden pitää käytännössä synkronoida 5G-verkkonsa, jotta voivat hyödyntää lisensoimaansa taajuusresurssia täysimittaisesti. Tämä synkronointi tapahtuu nykyään pääasiassa siirtoverkon välityksellä.

    DNA:n radioverkkojohtaja Jaakko Laarin mukaan sen verkossa ei ole havaittu mitään häiriöitä. Jos katsoo GNSS Finland -palvelun tietoja, GPS-signaalin laatu on häiriöiden jälkeen ollut moitteeton. Tämä ei tietenkään poissulje sitä mahdollisuutta, että GPS-signaalin häirintää vain testattiin.

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  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Satelliittipaikannuksessa outoja häiriöitä – Traficom seuraa
    https://www.uusiteknologia.fi/2022/03/09/satelliittipaikannuksessa-outoja-hairioita-traficom-seuraa/
    Satelliittipohjaisen GPS-paikannuksen häiriöistä on tehty liikenne- ja viestintävirasto mukaan poikkeuksellisen paljon havaintoja itärajan läheisyydessä. Häiriöiden aiheuttajasta ei vielä ole, mutta Traficom seuraa tilannetta ja kerää lisätietoja.
    Traficom on saanut viranomaistahona viime viikonlopun jälkeen poikkeamaraportoinnin kautta useilta ilma-aluksilta tietoja GPS-häiriöistä. Häiriöt ovat alkaneet viikonloppuna, ja ne jatkuvat edelleen.
    Tiistaina usea ilma-alus on raportoinut Traficomille GPS-signaalin häiriöistä Mikkeli-Jyväskylä-Kuopio-akselilla. Lisäksi liettulaisen Transavibaltikan kone ei ole päässyt kolmeen päivään lentämään Tallinnasta Savonlinnaan.
    Traficom on pyytänyt maanantaina Fintrafficin lennonvarmistusta julkaisemaan lentoliikennetiedotteen (NOTAM) sen jälkeen, kun virasto on saanut havaintoja GPS-häiriöistä. Lentoliikennetiedote on tapa ilmoittaa lentäjille seikoista, jotka tulee huomioida lentoturvallisuudessa.

    Reply
  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Traficom: Itärajan läheisyydessä poikkeuksellisen paljon havaintoja GPS-häiriöistä https://www.is.fi/digitoday/art-2000008668739.html
    Häiriöiden vuoksi liettualaisen Transavibaltikan kone ei ole päässyt kolmeen päivään lentämään Tallinnasta Savonlinnaan. Asiasta aiemmin kertoneen Helsingin Sanomien tietojen mukaan kone oli joutunut aina Kouvolan tienoilla kääntymään takaisin kadotettuaan GPS-signaalin.
    Häiriöt alkoivat viikonloppuna ja jatkuvat edelleen. Traficom ei toistaiseksi tiedä häiriön syytä tai aiheuttajaa, mutta seuraa tilannetta ja kerää asiasta lisätietoja. Tiedote:
    https://www.traficom.fi/fi/ajankohtaista/gps-hairioista-tehty-havaintoja-itarajan-laheisyydessa-poikkeuksellisen-paljon

    Reply
  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Lentokerhon vetäjä arvelee, että gps-signaalia Suomessa häiritään tahallaan – “Vaarallista touhua, jos signaali katkeaa huonoissa olosuhteissa”
    Alkuviikosta liikenne- ja viestintävirasto Traficom varoitti lentoliikennettä siitä, kuinka Suomen itärajalla on havaittu paikannuksessa häiriöitä. Traficom on kertonut selvittävänsä syitä häiriöiden taustalla. Savonlinnan Lentokerhon puheenjohtaja uskoo, että häiriöt on aiheutettu tahallisesti.
    https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-12351103

    Reply
  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Europe warns of aircraft GPS outages tied to Russian invasion
    https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/europe-warns-of-aircraft-gps-outages-tied-to-russian-invasion/

    The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), EU’s air transport safety and environmental protection regulator, warned today of intermittent outages affecting Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) linked to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

    These GNSS outages can lead to navigation and surveillance degradation due to jamming and/or possible spoofing issues that have intensified around Ukraine.

    EASA says that, based on reports from Eurocontrol and open-source data reports, the number of satnav spoofing and/or jamming incidents has expanded around the Kaliningrad region, Eastern Finland, the Black Sea, and the Eastern Mediterranean area since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

    “The effects of GNSS jamming and/or possible spoofing were observed by aircraft in various phases of their flights, in certain cases leading to re-routing or even to change the destination due to the inability to perform a safe landing procedure,” EASA warned.

    GPS interference alert issued by Finland
    The European agency’s warning follows a public announcement issued by Finland’s Transport and Communications Agency, Traficom, notifying of a spike of GPS interference issues around the country’s eastern border with Russia.

    Notably, several Transaviabaltika planes flying to Savonlinna, Finland, had to return to Tallinn, Estonia, on Sunday, because of a failure affecting the onboard GPS navigation system.

    While the Finnish agency’s announcement explained that the source of the interference was challenging to determine, there have been previous reports of ships encountering satnav problems in the Black Sea in 2017 linked to Russia.

    Norwegian authorities also accused Russia of widespread disruption of GPS navigation during military drills In December 2017. NATO faced similar problems during military exercises in Finland in November 2018.

    Reply
  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    most interference that causes GPS outage also interferes with other systems like GLONASS and beidou that operate at same frequency band.

    Reply
  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How Russia’s GPS satellite signal jamming works, and what we can do about it
    By Elizabeth Howell published 3 days ago
    https://www.space.com/gps-signal-jamming-explainer-russia-ukraine-invasion

    The trucks are so large that they show up easily in some satellite imagery, according to a recent CSIS threat assessment report. The equipment is “military grade,” meaning that Russia spent years developing the system and did not purchase it commercially.

    The report added that jamming was happening long before the Ukraine invasion began on Feb. 24, as the Russian military “has frequently jammed GPS signals in Ukraine since 2014.” That year saw the Russians invade and annex Crimea, which until then had been part of Ukraine. That invasion put Russia under a different and less severe set of international sanctions than the nation is facing now.

    Learn more about the high-tech strategy Russian has been using during its invasion of Ukraine.

    There are multiple global positioning satellite systems in operation now; Russia, China, the U.S. and Europe each has its own, for example. The Space Force official told NBC that Russia is only after the ground station signals from one of them: the Navstar system of satellites used by the United States and made available openly to many countries around the world.

    Navstar broadcasts in a typical set of radio frequencies that GPS receivers, such as car navigation devices or cell phones, can pick up. Johnson said that one way of getting around the jamming would be to vary or widen the frequency of transmissions to make it more difficult for jamming equipment to block the signal.

    The trucks are so large that they show up easily in some satellite imagery, according to a recent CSIS threat assessment report. The equipment is “military grade,” meaning that Russia spent years developing the system and did not purchase it commercially

    Jammers typically work by using massive radio dishes that throw up radio “noise” that block particular signals, although their efficacy can be hindered by terrain, Johnson said.

    Russia has also been trying to jam the broadband signals beamed down to Ukraine by SpaceX’s Starlink internet satellites, according to company founder and CEO Elon Musk. SpaceX shipped thousands of Starlink terminals to Ukraine in February to provide an independent set of infrastructure to the besieged nation

    Reply
  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Knowing Your Place: The Implications Of GPS Spoofing And Jamming
    https://hackaday.com/2022/05/23/knowing-your-place-the-implications-of-gps-spoofing-and-jamming/

    Artificial satellites have transformed the world in many ways, not only in terms of relaying communication and for observing the planet in ways previously inconceivable, but also to enable incredibly accurate navigation. A so-called global navigation satellite system (GNSS), or satnav for short, uses the data provided by satellites to pin-point a position on the surface to within a few centimeters.

    The basic concept of a GNSS is fairly straight-forward: ground-based receivers listen for the signals from the satellites that are part of the specific GNSS constellation. Each GNSS satellite encodes a collection of information into this signal, which includes the position (ephemeris) of the satellite at a given time, as well as the local time on the satellite when the signal was sent.

    By taking the signals from at least four of these satellites and applying the satellite navigation solution, the absolute position of the receiver can thus be determined. This uses the principle of trilateration (distance to a known point) rather than triangulation (using angles). As can be surmised, a potential issue here involves clock drift on the side of the receiver and the satellites. Perhaps less expected is that the travel speed of the signal is also heavily affected by the atmosphere, specifically the ionosphere.

    Jam Warfare
    GNSS spoofing illustrated. (Credit: C4ADS)

    The concept of jamming radio frequency communications is quite straight-forward: simply broadcast on the frequencies you wish to jam with more power than the original transmitter is capable of. Since the GNSS signal is relatively faint, this makes it easy for a ground-based system to jam this signal. Of course, since loss of a GNSS satellite fix is a known issue, backup strategies for this scenario are common, and it’s also very noticeable due to the loss of communication from a satellite.

    Spoofing is a lot more subtle than jamming, as well as more versatile. Instead of merely blasting the airwaves with raw power, GNSS spoofing still involves overpowering the original signal, but instead of a denial of service (DoS) attack, spoofing is closer to a man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack, where fake satellite signals are presented to the receiver as being the genuine signals, with of course spoofed parameters that will cause the receiver to calculate a position that’s far away from where it actually is.

    In a 2019 report by C4ADS (Center for Advanced Defense Studies) titled Above Us Only Stars – Exposing GPS spoofing in Russia and Syria, a number of observations are reported on where Russia has used GNSS spoofing, for a variety of reasons. An interesting and common use appears to be the spoofing of GNSS signals so that receivers think that they are located at a nearby airport. Presumably this would trigger the geofencing limitations in drones and similar, which would then refuse to take off. This could be useful during VIP visits as an anti-drone strategy, for example.

    Less harmless is the military use, where during recent Russian and NATO exercises Norway and Finland reported severe GPS outages. This affected the public by limiting the navigation capacity of commercial airliners, and also disrupted the use of cellphone networks. Supposedly, in 2011 Iran used GPS spoofing to trick a Lockheed Martin RQ-170 drone to land on one of its airfields, where it was subsequently captured. Similarly, there have been multiple occasions now where marine traffic has been disrupted due to faulty GPS data being fed to the automatic identification system (AIS).

    As the 2019 C4ADS report notes, this has been reported by ships in the Black Sea on multiple occasions, and also in 2019 it was reported that an American container ship – the MV Manukai – noticed very strange behavior while at the port in Shanghai, China.

    GNSS Hunting
    GPS interference can be pinpointed based on this ring of false AIS positions. Approximately 200 meters in diameter, many of the positions in the ring had reported speeds near 31 knots (much faster than a normal vessel speed) and a course going counterclockwise around the circle. AIS data courtesy Global Fishing Watch / Orbcomm / Spire.
    GPS interference can be pinpointed based on this ring of false AIS positions. Approximately 200 meters in diameter, many of the positions in the ring had reported speeds near 31 knots (much faster than a normal vessel speed) and a course going counterclockwise around the circle. AIS data courtesy Global Fishing Watch / Orbcomm / Spire.

    What’s mystifying about the GNSS spoofing as detected in Shanghai is that instead of it merely moving the calculated position to a nearby fixed point, what we see when we collate the wrong AIS data onto a map is that they form near-perfect circles.

    Yet as a team from the University of Texas at Austin demonstrated in 2013 already using $2,000 worth of equipment and an $80 million yacht, spoofing GPS signals is relatively easy and straightforward. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to picture what is possible today, since since that demonstration nine years ago using a university-budget, especially when upgraded to a nation-sized budget.

    According to current reports, Russia is actively spoofing GPS data during the war in Ukraine, which would affect mostly private and commercial users. Whether the US military has additional backups in the case of spoofing and jamming attempts is naturally unknown, due to national security reasons. Even so, with the importance of GNSS today with navigation and so much more, it would seem pertinent to wonder whether spoofing can be detected or circumvented.

    Knowing Is Half The Battle

    In an analysis by Guy Buesnel, he notes that there are quite a few risks in the GNSS chain, not the least of which is faulty equipment, and sources of interference. Perhaps the most important lesson of the past years has been that solely relying on GNSS is risky, and that adding additional ways to determine one’s position is essential, as well as the ability to detect the act of spoofing.

    We’re already seeing that GNSS receivers built into smartphones can use multiple GNSS constellations, with the ability to use local WiFi networks and so on as augmentation.

    Using fairly low-tech improvements it would be easy to detect many spoofing attacks, such as when one’s calculated location suddenly and dramatically changes, or when one’s calculated course does not match with the data provided by the augmentation system, cell towers, or other sources of location information.

    Even if GNSS isn’t the effortless panacea that many had assumed it to be, it is still a major navigational marvel, and a cornerstone of modern civilization that will continue to see improvements as it has since the first GPS satellite was launched. It just takes staying one step ahead of the meddling hackers.

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  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    It’s About Time: System Backs GNSS to Further National Security
    May 20, 2022
    Microchip’s Precise Time Scale System enables nations to operate an independent backup to GNSS, protecting critical infrastructure.
    https://www.mwrf.com/technologies/systems/article/21242246/microwaves-rf-its-about-time-system-backs-gnss-to-further-national-security?utm_source=RF+MWRF+Today&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=CPS220520047&o_eid=7211D2691390C9R&rdx.ident%5Bpull%5D=omeda%7C7211D2691390C9R&oly_enc_id=7211D2691390C9R

    Microchip Technology’s Precise Time Scale System provides world-class timing accuracy that’s traceable to Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) without being dependent on the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS).

    GNSS technology has been the backbone of nations’ infrastructure timing requirements for several decades, going back to the Transit system developed by the U.S. DoD in the 1960s. But with national infrastructures around the globe being ever more dependent on timing accuracy, the pervasiveness of cybersecurity threats to GNSSs makes an alternate time system a matter of national security.

    Microchip’s Precise Time Scale System provides a backup that nations, institutions, critical infrastructure operators, and scientific labs can rely on to retain complete control over their critical timing source. When you think “critical infrastructure,” think transportation systems, financial sectors, communications, and power utilities.

    The Precise Time Scale System (PTSS) is a fully integrated system capable of providing timing accuracies comparable to the world’s best national laboratories. The core products integrated into the PTSS begin with the SyncSystem 4380A Time Scale Edition. It generates an autonomous time scale derived from combining sever­al highly accurate independent clocks with a multichannel instrument for measuring and comparing clock performance.

    Microchip’s SyncServerS600/S650 and TimeProvider 4100 time servers are integrated into the system to deliver Trusted Time to critical infrastructure using both Network Time Protocol (NTP) and Precision Time Protocol (PTP).

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