Poll: Experiences with jamming, spoofing and RF interference

November 14, 2016  - By

jimi-purple-hazeNot with Purple Haze, but with signal interference — although, come to think of it, the two may be not unalike, phenomenologically.

The October reader’s poll asked “Have you directly experienced any of the following? Check all that apply.

  • GPS/GNSS jamming.
  • GPS/GNSS spoofing.
  • Unintentional RF interference.
  • RF interference from unknown source; unknown whether intentional or not.
  • None of the above.
  • Other, please specify.

The answers rather stunned me in their magnitude. To be sure, respondents were self-selected and thus not totally representative of the electorate (you) out there. People who have undergone jamming or spoofing would be much more likely to step forward and say “Yeah, here,” than those who had not would be to fill out an online form, however brief, simply to say “Nah, not me.”

At any rate, the answers came back:

  • Jamming: 70 percent (70 percent!)
  • Spoofing: 25 percent
  • Unintentional RF interference: 55 percent
  • Unknown RF interference: 65 percent
  • None of the above: 5 percent

Among the “other” answers we received were these:

I’ve participated in official test activities; Incidents caused by GPS booster (low-cost repeater); We regularly see our vehicle tracking systems jammed or providing incorrect positions believed to be via organised theft using sophisticated jammers; Every time I drive past Newark, NJ on I-95; Badly installed GPS antennas, RF interference from old GPS antennas.

Scanning the affiliations of those answering, the names of organizations actively involved in monitoring or countering jamming and spoofing rise to the top. Still, to get such overwhelming response — only one in 20 was not experienced in this realm — suggests time and energy invested in protections and countermeasures should be doubled, quadrupled or more. Disasters of many kinds loom.

Speaking of disasters, and of our fondness for placing our finger on the pulse of the GNSS/PNT community, we held a mock presidential plebiscite at ION GNSS+ in September. “Who will be the best GPS president?” That is, who would be the best president for GPS, in terms of funding and support? The answers: Clinton 60 percent, Trump 34 percent. The real results may already be known by the time you read this. And, to paraphrase Gerald Ford (something I never thought I’d find myself doing), our long national nightmare may be over.

Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time?

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About the Author: Alan Cameron

Alan Cameron is the former editor-at-large of GPS World magazine.