Data and communication networks are part of a vertical that relies on GPS synchronization. One report questioned the robustness of the mechanism at the civilian level.
Unintentional interference from radio and space can cause problems for GPS systems, as can GPS interference and intentional signal spoofing. But according to the 2012 Homeland Security Report recently released under the Freedom of Information Act, communications companies are not prepared to protect GPS systems from these threats, EE Publishing reports.
The communications industry is "vulnerable to a potential long-term GPS outage of a few days or more, which could lead to a reduction in service quality across the industry," the report said.
The fact that GPS is vulnerable to interference and damage is nothing new. However, the apparent lack of preparedness of civilian systems noted by the Department of Homeland Security should be a revelation.
Space weather can disrupt the ionosphere, which can affect accuracy, causing problems - receivers can't lock on to satellite signals. Interference can also interrupt the signal, NOAA explains on its website.
What's at stake here? Some people get lost for days and still have to look through paper maps?
It's not that simple. GPS is used for timing and positioning. The satellite's quasi-triangulation can not only tell people where they are, but also add a time stamp to their location.
Each satellite has an atomic clock. When a GPS receiver on the ground decodes a satellite signal, it also synchronizes the receiver with that clock.
The tool is used in all industries. It is used by the energy and communications industries to improve timing accuracy. For example, the World Bank and data networks also rely on it. GPS.gov explains that communications networks don't use it to itemize specific calls on someone's bill, but instead to sync all phones, base stations, and radios so they can "share limited radio spectrum more efficiently." Global Positioning System portal.
Key findings of the now-public DHS report, stored on the nonprofit website Governmentattic.org, include that while the communications sector is "generally resilient to most short-term outages" because it uses good backup synchronization, there are no long-term outages.
The authors of the report also said in 2012 that they believed it was due to "the increasing popularity and use of low-cost and portable GPS receivers or signal jammers." Multifrequency jammers "can cause" more frequent local GPS interference."
In other words, GPS hacks targeting financial rewards for sports or cybercrime are on the horizon.