Drone GPS jamming: Why should amateur drone users be prepared too
Posted by jammer from the Agriculture category at 20 Sep 2023 02:42:24 am.
Many drones rely on GPS (and other technologies like ships and cargo fleets, and even smartphones) for navigation and tracking. But some bad actors are trying to jam these GPS signals.
InfiniDome is an Israeli GPS security company founded in 2016 that makes a variety of products, but its focus area is building GPS signal protection systems. This summer, Infinidome published a white paper that clarified how drone gps jamming works and provided a very sobering demonstration of how GPS (GNSS) systems are vulnerable to jamming attacks.
Why does drone interference occur?Why is it a problem?
There are many reasons why people would want to jam drone GPS signals, including defense applications, causing enemy drones to get lost or crash. While drones are used in systems such as aerial surveillance to catch drug traffickers, these drug cartel criminals are known to use drone jammers to prevent this from happening. In fact, Mexico reports that jammers were used in 85 percent of all recorded cargo truck thefts, according to the Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation, a science and education nonprofit in Virginia.
This isn't just big military or serious legal use cases. A drone light show over a shopping mall in Zhengzhou, China, went awry when a drone fell from the sky, endangering 5,000 onlookers, after a drone jammer was used.
In short, even if you don’t necessarily think there’s a clear enemy trying to take down your drone, it’s crucial to be prepared for a GPS jammer attack on your drone. This happens with drone light shows too.
Drone interference may not be all bad
This is not to say that all drone interference is necessarily bad or evil. In fact, sometimes it may be considered the opposite. For example, the Federal Aviation Administration turned to counter-drone companies to help research drone jammers to ensure that unwanted drones are not flying near airports and posing a safety risk to flights full of passengers. The Department of Defense also uses drones to protect classified areas or other locations that require security.
How does drone GPS jamming actually work?
Drone GPS jammers utilize GNSS receivers, which use GPS signals (along with GLONASS, Galileo and other constellations, hence the name "GNSS" - Global Navigation Satellite System), but it is known that these receivers, whether through deliberate jamming Receivers are all very fragile and susceptible to interference - but often even unintentional interference (like you might experience while driving through a mountain tunnel or even sometimes when you lose cell service in certain parts of your home).
Obtaining jamming equipment is very easy and cheap. You don’t need an entire mountain to block GPS signals—you can find GPS-jamming devices online for less than $100. As long as the signal jammers can emit a signal on the same frequency as yours but with a stronger signal, they will win and jam your drone.
Of course, it's not that simple. There are a variety of jamming attacks and signals, including continuous wavelengths, where a single frequency is jammed and anything transmitted on the same frequency will be blocked. With another method called narrowband, the power is spread out and diluted across different frequencies that make up a band (a range of about 2MHz). To carry out an attack, a cell phone jammer "attacks" the bad guys by creating a series of narrowband signals that are transmitted immediately after each other.
Drone interference solution
So while there are various ways to jam a drone GPS signal, there are also various ways to protect your GPS system. The challenge? These solutions can be expensive, heavy and bulky in order to process all those digital signals.