Could a $30 GPS Jammer Paralyze U.S. Cities?

When the phrase “GPS technology” is uttered, the image of an in-car navigation system might come to mind. However, GPS is also used in data networks, sea and air transport, railways and emergency services. It is also used in systems like high-frequency trading because of its ability to perform as synchronized, highly-accurate clock. However, some claim that GPS systems are vulnerable to terrorist attacks, even saying entire cities might be crippled by those attempting to jam GPS signals. And others claim that a $30 GPS jamming device can actually bring down sophisticated GPS system, causing mass disruption and chaos.

A recent report by the U.K.’s Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) on the vulnerability of GPS systems highlights the “dangerous over-reliance” on satellite navigation and timing signals, which are vulnerable to disruption from natural events, such as solar storms, or unnatural events, such as jamming.

A recent white paper from NASA says that a “multiple agency approach must be urgently developed and executed” to counteract the “alarming” rise in availability of GPS jammers, it warned in a paper last year. The threat to our national security could be “devastating.”

And according to a Wall Street Journal report from Ben Rooney, the RAE report “draws attention to the fact that the Global Positioning System (GPS) and other global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) have become so woven into the fabric of modern business that they represent a single point of failure among systems that at first glance have nothing to do with each other.”

The report recommends a range of actions to reduce vulnerability, including closing the legal loophole that allows the import and possession of jamming devices. Other security experts call for alternative back-up systems such as eLORAN, which uses ground-based low frequency radio waves to provide location information.

For more information on potential GPS security issues and future solutions, read the full article:

To read the white paper from NASA on this issue, click here: