Cyber shield solutions provider infiniDome ensures continuity of autonomous navigation and operation under GPS-challenged environments, whether that’s maritime vessels, commercial truck fleets, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or critical infrastructure. The following case study outlines the effective use of infiniDome’s field proven “OtoSphere” in the protection of GPS devices against criminal jamming attacks.
GPS technologies have become so widespread in modern times that it’s almost immeasurable. And we’re not just talking about your favorite navigation app on your phone. GPS has become absolutely crucial for commercial activities as well as national security. With this critical technology being extremely vulnerable to widely available jammers, the problem has become a national-level concern.
Trucks rely heavily on accurate and reliable GPS data to ensure their operability and security. The GPS signals are extremely weak and particularly vulnerable to jamming. Without GPS signals, fleets are unable to navigate and, more importantly, cannot be tracked from the control center. When a jamming scenario occurs, the Security Operations Center (SOC) is unable to even detect the incident, and remains completely unaware of any malicious activity.
GPS signal jammers & criminal use
Criminals and other malicious actors have begun to recognize the pivotal role GPS plays, and in recent years, thanks to the wide availability of cheap GPS signal jammers, these criminals have found an easy way to hack the technology, enabling them to steal valuable cargo without getting caught.
GPS jammers have become almost standard issue for criminals engaged in cargo theft and drug trafficking. In the US and Europe, information regarding the frequency of GPS jamming in cargo theft is not widely available. But Mexico released their figures a few years ago, revealing that GPS jammers were used in an astonishing 85% of documented cargo truck thefts. Even with Mexico taking stricter measures against these incidents, the issue is continuing to worsen, with a truck robbery occurring every five minutes.
The core problem for any system using GPS is the nature of the signals themselves, which emanate from satellites located 20,000km above the Earth’s surface – making them inherently weak. All a jammer has to do to overpower the GPS signals is to emit a signal at the same frequency, just a bit more powerful than the original GPS signal. The typical jammers used for cargo hijackings are able to jam frequencies from up to 5 miles away.
Along the U.S.-Mexico border, drug cartels have been pouring money into jamming technologies in recent years, using jammers on border surveillance drones to hide their operations from the U.S. government.
GPS jamming along the U.S.-Mexico border is an ongoing problem, with fairly significant interference having been detected as recently as March 2022 – in New Mexico, near military operating facilities no less.
Mexican authorities have revealed that gangs in Mexico are hijacking hundreds of commercial cargo trucks every month. These criminals are not afraid to use violence and are illegally operating police cars, so hijacked trucks, and indeed anyone, can become their next target. It’s clear that trucks are going to need real protection from jamming attacks if the situation is going to improve.
Protection against jammer-based hijackings
InfiniDome has developed the first anti-jamming solution that is compatible with almost any GPS-based telematics unit.
The map below is a real-life example highlighting the route of an unprotected cargo truck that suffered a GPS jamming attack and subsequent cargo theft. The tracking overlay indicates that the vehicle stopped and was idle by the road for 13 minutes. But in actual fact, it was driven into the clearing marked to the right, illegally offloaded, then driven back along its normal route after the jammer was turned off.
To try and cope with cargo theft, the aforementioned truck owners developed “safe corridors” which are geofenced – built to trigger an alarm when the truck strays outside of them (the geofenced area is shown by the tan shade). The cargo thieves, obviously aware of this method of protection, used a GPS jammer that prevented the system from monitoring the truck’s location, thereby avoiding the triggering of an alert that the truck had left the geofenced corridor. The truck did signal an illegal stop though, and a quick investigation proved that the 13-minute diversion was all that was needed to empty the vehicle’s contents.
This company is now protected by infiniDome’s OtoSphere – the only commercially available anti-jamming solution to protect against jammer-based hijackings and cargo theft.
InfiniDome’s “OtoSphere” is a small add-on device created for commercial GNSS receivers, providing protection and increasing the resiliency of GPS devices against jamming attacks. By identifying and preventing instances of jamming, fleet operators are able to prevent cargo theft.
The way the OtoSphere functions is mightily impressive. By using multiple (off-the-shelf) antennas, the system analyzes which directions the attacks are coming from and creates a dynamic, directional filter for each one (thereby attenuating the force of each offensive vector). Its proprietary algorithm and hardware also adapts the depth of each filter to the strength of the attack – meaning the stronger the attack, the deeper the filter.
The OtoSphere, already field-proven, with more than 200 units in use around the world, is beginning to be deployed operationally by defense and homeland security organizations worldwide.
As the first management solution for jamming attacks, infiniDome’s infiniCloud provides even more peace of mind. Compatible with the OtoSphere, this GPS security cloud software monitors real-time jamming data using infiniDome’s GPSensor, providing alerts and early detection of jamming.