Bern – Swiss and international scientists have developed a system to protect global airspace from cyberattacks. The development will be showcased at a leading cyber security conference in San Francisco this May.

Cyberattacks have increasingly targeted GPS satellite navigation systems over the past few years. These attacks, which include fraudulent signals to send air traffic off course, are particularly dangerous for airplanes, helicopters and drones that use GPS to navigate. Particularly susceptible to these attacks are any devices in the civil field that use GPS signals, according to an armasuisse statement.

Now there could be a solution to these cyberattacks, thanks to a development made by armasuisse’s science and technology branch and researchers from the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH), TU KaiserslauternRuhr-Universität Bochum and New York University Abu Dhabi.

The team developed a system known as Crowd-GPS-Sec, which continuously monitors airspace using digital codes from airplanes and drones. Thanks to an algorithm, the system can recognise fraudulent GPS signals within seconds. It can pinpoint the location of the attacker to within metres a maximum of 15 minutes later.

Because the airplane signals are monitored by a team of volunteers online (crowdsourcing), affected organizations can benefit from the system without installing a monitoring system or changing the GPS receptor in airplanes or drones.

There is already a prototype of the development, which will be showcased at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy in San Francisco this May. The symposium is a leading cyber security conference, according to armasuisse.

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