Report from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on the Denver International Airport Spoofing Incident
On December 12, 2023, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently released a three-page “CISA Insights” document titled “Global Positioning System (GPS) Interference.” Eleven months in the making, the 3-page report details the spoofing that covered approximately 50 nautical mile radius on the ground and spanned approximately 230 nautical miles in distance from the interfering transmitter at flight levels up to approximately 36,000 feet.
The January 2022 GPS jamming incident in Denver is discussed on the first page of the CISA report as an example of bad things that can happen and why GPS users should take precautions against interference.
“Issued eleven months after the event, the DHS CISA report provides little new information and leaves several important questions unanswered.” according to Dana Goward, President of the RNT Foundation. “One of the most important questions is why it took so long to locate and end interference from a strong signal impacting such a large area.”
Mr. Goward goes on to write that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was the first agency to become aware of the issue and the report credits the Enforcement Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with finding and terminating the spurious transmission.
Despite an “established national coordination process,” the interference was unabated for 33 hours.
While the report does not give details of the delay, likely reasons include the large number of agencies involved, diffuse authorities and responsibilities, the lack of a national interference detection system or a GPS/PNT “command center,” and several decades of funding and staffing reductions for FCC’s Enforcement Bureau.
Department of Homeland Security Makes GNSS/GPS Protection a Priority
From the report, the DHS CISA has said: “Improving interference detection and mitigation (IDM) of GPS signal interference is a priority of CISA. CISA is leading a federal government interagency after-action review of the event to encourage owner/operator resilience by sharing best practices, improving capabilities, processes, and procedures on reporting GPS interference and encouraging shared situational awareness with the goal of enhancing government and industry information sharing to further improve expediting IDM of interfering emissions, affecting GPS signals over the United States and its territories.”
In closing, GNSS/GPS vulnerability has been exposed in recent months. The DHS and the White House directives are proof that everyone from state actors to the general population is capable of spoofing. Syncworks is dedicated to offering critical infrastructure networks and their operators a path the GPS resiliency and protection.
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