AGILE: strengthening GNSS security to enhance crisis operations

Detection of anomalous behavior of GNSS position, check-proofing fake or unreliable signals, therefore enabling risk reduction to enhance crisis operations

Challenge

In matter of disasters, in Europe, the Civil Protection has the objective to “better protect people, their environment, property and cultural heritage in the event of major natural or man-made disasters, occurring both inside and outside the EU” . In doing this, space-based services play a crucial supporting role in the Emergency Management Cycle, contributing to baseline mapping, identifying disaster-prone areas and thus facilitating the implementation of appropriate mitigation measures.

In this context, there is the need for efficient Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), in order to satisfy a wide range of necessities such as:

  • speed up rescue operations for people in distress and manage operations in harsh environments
  • capture reliable visual data in a structured and consistent format
  • improve mapping, emergency procedures, navigation and tracking capabilities
  • receive/send information, updates and instructions; early/timely warnings
  • getting access to inaccessible areas (by satellite imagery and nowadays with the increasing support of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles - UAVs).

Nevertheless, GNSS solutions are increasingly vulnerable to signal interferences and, among various intentional interference signals, spoofing and jamming are the most dangerous since they are designed to mislead their target receivers that are not aware of the attack and this can lead to disastrous consequences.

A crucial role is covered by relying on trustful positioning data and so to authenticate the observations and proving disasters’ observers have been or not been at given locations since unreliable GNSS signals can lead field teams astray.

Approach

The RINA software engineering and cyber-security team developed the AGILE (Automatic GNSS Integrity Leak Evaluation) solution, a key element to solve these challenges, enabling signal integrity by detecting possible jamming and spoofing attacks to the GNSS signal, check-proofing fake or unreliable signals, and thereby helping to target improved citizen safety, emergency management, risk reduction and response in disaster management.

The AGILE solution is designed to check signal integrity by two elements. The first one is focused on GNSS Spoofing Attack Detection (SAD), storing the positioning information from the GNSS receiver and the IMU to allow a constant cross-check between the two tracks. While a second one is a GNSS Jamming Attack Detection (JAD) that constantly monitors the GNSS receiver signal acquisition log to detect anomalies. Anomalies are flagged whenever parameter values exceed a set threshold for a pre-defined amount of time.

In addition to checking the GNSS signal integrity, the tool also sends notifications to personnel in the Operation Centre about the UAV location as well as a system status message to the pilot.

Conclusion

The AGILE solution has been developed, implemented and tested in the EU H2020 project GEO-VISION, which focused to provide an optimal interactive mission-critical visual communications software to users with required situational awareness. In AGILE, anti-jamming and anti-spoofing methods are combined and applied in the same tool, which can be easily implemented in a laptop in the field, on-site coordination centers, or made visible remotely in headquarters by mapping tools.

The main functions of the solution are related to the detection of anomalous behaviour of GNSS position provided by a COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) receiver, through the evaluation of possible jamming/interference basing on GNSS/IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) data fusion algorithm.

The key values offered by AGILE for a customer willing to have a solution to detect GNSS anomalies are:

  • Light and easy mounting solution
  • Soft real-time monitoring
  • No pre-configuration requirements
  • Detection of different attacks in an all-in-one device
  • Multi-GNSS
  • Modular and customizable solution (AGILE software open to further exploit new Galileo features)
  • APIs: possibility to share AGILE information to 3rd parties location-based platforms
  • AGILE is developed for UAV’s applications but it is replicable in any sector where trusted and precise GNSS positioning signal is needed over the emergency services (e.g. defense, law enforcement, internal security, transport of hazardous goods, etc.).

Ivan Tesfai Ogbu