Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) - Attacks and Countermeasures

Increasing numbers of mobile computing devices, user-portable, or embedded in vehicles, cargo containers, or the physical space, need to be aware of their location in order to provide a wide range of commercial services. Most often, mobile devices obtain their own location with the help of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), integrating, for example, a global positioning system (GPS) receiver. Nonetheless, an adversary can compromise location-aware applications by attacking the GNSS-based positioning: It can forge navigation messages and mislead the receiver into calculating a fake location. In this paper, we analyze this vulnerability and propose and evaluate the effectiveness of countermeasures. First, we consider replay attacks, which can be effective even in the presence of future cryptographic GNSS protection mechanisms. Then, we propose and analyze methods that allow GNSS receivers to detect the reception of signals generated by an adversary, and then reject fake locations calculated because of the attack. We consider three diverse defense mechanisms, all based on knowledge, in particular, own location, time, and Doppler shift, receivers can obtain prior to the onset of an attack. We find that inertial mechanisms that estimate location can be defeated relatively easy. This is equally true for the mechanism that relies on clock readings from off-the-shelf devices; as a result, highly stable clocks could be needed. On the other hand, our Doppler Shift Test can be effective without any specialized hardware, and it can be applied to existing devices.

Published in:
IEEE Military Communications Conference (IEEE MILCOM), 1-7
Presented at:
IEEE Military Communications Conference (IEEE MILCOM), San Diego, CA, USA, November 16-19, 2008

 Record created 2009-03-07, last modified 2018-03-17

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