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Cyber Safety for Transportation

Tomorrow’s transportation systems will be much more automated. It’s likely to include: automatic vehicles that will descend from the air and populate our roadways (automatic driving assistance or ADAS), railways (positive train control, PTC) and waterways (ships without crews). Moreover, the sky will be filled with aircraft that carry no pilots to mitigate flight risk. These will be drones or un-piloted air vehicles (UAVs). For efficiency, cars will drive while the enclosed humans snooze or send texts. Trains will slow or speed certain that they alone occupy the underlying track. Drones will fly confidently between building to monitor air pollution and crime in our major cities. All told, the benefits will be great. However, securing tomorrow’s transportation system will involve many challenges.

Cyber safety for transportation will not be solved in one stroke of the pen or keyboard. It will require legal elements to discourage jamming and spoofing. It will require social protocols that convey the inappropriateness of such dangerous activities. It will require technical work to toughen GPS receivers with new satellite signals, digital message authentication, intelligent antennas and inertial sensors.

Below is a list of projects that SCPNT is sponsoring in this important area of research and development.

Click the More Information link or corresponding sub-menu item to the left to view details about a project.

Geosecurity

Geosecurity is the idea of using geographical and time dependent information such as position as a factor in authentication.  In essence, where you are is an element in verifying who you are or the authorization of access.  One use is for white-listing or black-listing access based on location.  Basically, certain application or data is allowed or disallowed based on location.  For example, hospital records can be access on a given computer when inside the hospital but not accessible in public locations.  A broader use is in geo-fencing where virtual barriers are created based on position, navigation and time (PNT) dependent information.

Stanford University GPS Laboratory is conducting fundamental and basic research into geosecurity.  Two major related areas of work naturally arises.  First is design and use of navigation signals for geosecurity.  Second is developing public means of enhancing the security and authentication of navigation signals.

Jamming Resistance

A GPS jammer is any device that deliberately blocks, jams or interferes with GPS communications. GPS jamming devices are fairly simple to manufacture and can be obtained over the Internet. In the United States, GPS jammers are illegal and their use can result in large fines. Stanford has been performing research on how to make GPS and GPS receivers more robust to mitigate interference from jammers.

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Anti-Spoofing

A GPS spoofing attack attempts to “deceive” a GPS receiver by broadcasting counterfeit GPS signals, structured to resemble a set of normal GPS signals, or by rebroadcasting genuine signals captured elsewhere or at a different time. These spoofed signals may be modified in such a way as to cause the receiver to estimate its position to be somewhere other than where it actually is, or to be located where it is but at a different time, as determined by the attacker.

JAGER

Jamming Acquisition with GPS Exploration Recognizance (JAGER) is a specially equipped UAV-helicopter-type drone or UAV developed in lab used for the detection and location of a GPS jammer. The current and expanding prevalence of GPS in the aviation industry has tremendously helped efficiency and safety, but it increases the potential risk posed by GPS jamming devices.  In an effort to combat and mitigate these risks, we are developing JAGER (Jamming Acquisition for GPS Exploration and Reconnaissance), a specially equipped multi-rotor drone capable of autonomously localizing GPS jammers.

Alternative PNT

A robust PNT infrastructure means having a capable and complimentary Alternative Position, Navigation and Time (APNT) systems available should the primary GNSS based system be degraded.  Systems using terrestrial transmissions provide capabilities that compliment GNSS  such as much higher signal power and greater ease of maintenance and upgrade.  However APNT also needs to provide operational capabilities similar to those gained from GNSS as well as robustness to malicious attackers.