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Wait... What? The Biggest Jamming Test is in Norway?

Thursday, September 22, 2022

From 19 – 23 September 2022 more than 100 European participants, including authorities, car manufacturers, and international technology suppliers, are taking part in the world’s largest GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System; ie GPS, Galileo, GLONASS) jamming test.  

The test is organized by the National Communications Authority of Norway (Nkom) in collaboration with the Norwegian Public Roads Administration and the Norwegian Defence Research Institute. There have been other somewhat similar tests jamming equipment, such as the Israeli GPS security company’s infiniDome test, but this test in Norway is significantly larger. The participants have a unique opportunity to test their equipment and expose it to GNSS jamming and spoofing scenarios in controlled conditions. The test is taking place in Andøya (Vesterålen, northern Norway), which lies between high mountains and the sea. It is an ideal geographical location for the test conditions. It also has minimal air traffic that might disturb the test. The location also limits the signal propagation of the transmitted jamming signals

“The jamming test is an important event which give a possibility to users and manufacturers to test their own navigation equipment in a realistic environment where the signal from GPS or others satellite navigation systems are disrupted, falsified or simply unavailable,” says Anders Rødningsby from the Defence Research Institute.

Society is increasingly dependent on services that determine the correct position, navigation, and precision. This increased reliance on GNSS in critical areas makes us and our systems vulnerable to interference of the satellite signals.

 “We therefore work to reduce vulnerability by facilitating testing which in turn will ensure robustness technology and increased security,” says Nicoli Gerrard from the National Communication Authority.

The tests include both jamming and spoofing scenarios. Jamming is interference or a complete block of radio and GNSS signals, while spoofing is sending false signals to deceive the receiver. The tests are carried out on the road and in the air. The driving tests take place on an 8 kilometres long test stretch arranged for car manufacturers. In addition, search and rescue services with drones and helicopters will participate in the test. The spoofing tests are divided into basic attacks, such as spoofing of L1 C/a satellite signals to a given position and/or a given time, and into advanced attacks that will include GPS L1 spoofing signals initially synchronized with live sky.

“The aim of the jamming test is to find solutions to an increasing security challenge before that affects the robustness of road transport and other important areas of society,” said Tomas Levin from the Norwegian Public Roads Administration.

The Jammetest is a follow-up to the Testfest which was carried out in Skibotn in September 2021.

Personal Comment:

This test is timely. In 2019 Norwegian officials complained that Russian forces had affected civil aviation activities by jamming GPS signals in Norwegian air space at least five times over the previous 17 months. There was, and is, a need to address vulnerabilities in our dependence on GNSS. In statement just noted several measures were mentioned that could be used in cases of interrupted GPS signal. These included monitoring and notification of signal disturbances. That is good as far as it goes but more needs to be done, hence the reason the current test seems like such a good idea. 

I think that having the possibility to test equipment and systems in jamming and spoofing scenarios in realistic settings has much more value than just monitoring and notifying about disrupted or falsified GPS signals. We need to develop robust and reliable technology that can withstand such malicious attacks or system failures. This is especially important for autonomous driving, which depends heavily on GNSS. There are companies that developing solutions designed to protect wireless communications from jamming and even spoofing attacks, however they must be tested in real-world scenarios.

Written by Kateryna Melnyk,
RISE Mobility & Systems