Although GPS is one of the most important technologies of our age, it is surprisingly susceptible to tampering and failure. GPS signals are actually surprisingly weak with leaves them vulnerable to not only spoofing, but jamming. While spoofing is the process of sending fake signals to a GPS device to make it think that it is in a different location, jamming completely scrambles the signals so that they become unusable.
In the United States, both jamming and spoofing are illegal, but other countries (which often use GPS as it was the first and arguably most reliable system) the laws vary and are sometimes nonexistent. This has led to many problems with GPS jamming and spoofing in other countries and here in the US.
Recently, a presentation to the National PNT Advisory Board highlighted exactly how frequently GPS signals are interfered with in some way. While you can read the whole presentation here, the most interesting part shows the number of events recorded over the course of a week by detectors spread across four sites:
- 244 events at a power station
- 179 along a highway
- 413 at a major airport
- 1,185 in a capital city
The interruptions varied in strength and length. All were detected through the European GNSS Agency’s STRIKE3 Project, which hopes to standardize the systems, processes, and interfaces for GNSS interference reporting and testing.
Currently, there are no similar ways of measuring GPS jamming or spoofing, and many people believe that it happens with even more frequency than in Europe. However, there is absolutely no way to tell. Regardless, the high level of GPS jamming in Europe is extremely problematic when so many agencies, including military and civilian projects, rely on satellite navigation.