Mapping out potential GPS threats
- By Paula Shaki Trimble
- Apr 03, 2000
The Transportation Department is waiting for the results of a study on how
to protect systems that use the Global Positioning System from hackers intent
on knocking out or distorting positioning data.
DOT asked the Volpe National Transportation System Center to study threats
to systems that receive GPS signals from the Defense Department's 28-satellite
constellation, said Joseph Canny, deputy assistant secretary for navigation
systems policy at DOT. The President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure
Protection, in conjunction with 1998's Presidential Decision Directive 63,
which called for agencies to develop ways to protect critical information
systems, recommended DOT conduct the study.
Volpe completed the first phase of the study in July 1999 by documenting
the threats of interference to GPS systems for railroad, maritime, aviation
and intelligent transportation system users, Canny said. The second phase,
expected to be completed this summer, will look at how to protect GPS from
Protecting the system is critical to safeguarding commercial aviation.
The FAA is designing a ground- and space-based GPS augmentation system for
commercial and private pilots to use. The agency originally planned to phase
out all ground-based navigation systems as it transitioned to satellite
navigation. But "recognition of uncertainties about the vulnerability of
GPS" led to FAA's decision to retain a basic backup network of nonsatellite-based
navigational aids, Canny said.
The study will be a "guide to future policy development and decision-making
on retention of other navigation systems and the development of [GPS] augmentation
systems," Canny said.