DHS Addresses GPS Vulnerabilities with New Antenna
Thursday, November 29, 2018 | Comments

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ‪Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) dedicated a multiyear program to address GPS vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure, with a multipronged approach to conduct vulnerability and impact assessments, develop mitigations, explore complementary timing technologies and engage with industry through outreach meetings and events.‬

S&T develops cost-effective mitigation technologies for GPS interference, such as the Total Horizon Nuller (THN) antenna, which was developed in conjunction with the Homeland Security Systems Engineering and Development Institute. The antenna design is available to manufacturers through a no-cost license, and S&T has transitioned the antenna to three companies for commercialization.

The antenna is a specialized low‑cost “anti-jam” antenna for fixed infrastructure applications that mitigates ground-based sources of GPS interference. The solution enables critical infrastructure owners and operators to deploy such antennas more widely within parts of their networks that require resilience measures but were not critical enough to warrant significantly higher priced solutions.

“Some critical infrastructure operators have thousands of GPS antennas and receivers in their network,” said Sarah Mahmood, DHS S&T program manager. “Widely deploying a $10,000 antenna is impractical. This is especially true for the wireless communications sector, which deploys cell sites everywhere. But a low-cost antenna could be deployed at sites within the networks that need it.”

The positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) program is engaging private industry to develop an “assured timing compliance framework” to strengthen the resilience of the nation’s critical infrastructure. This framework will be a key part of the PNT program and aims to help different levels of smart and resilient receivers meet varying end-user needs in sectors, such as communications. Participation in this compliance framework will be voluntary, but industrywide adoption of this framework will enable greater PNT resilience in critical infrastructure, such as the nation’s electric grids and communication networks.

S&T also hosted the 2018 GPS Equipment Testing for Critical Infrastructure (GET-CI) annual event to allow stakeholders to test and evaluate equipment in a unique live‑sky GPS interference environment rarely available to the private sector. Stakeholders include critical infrastructure GPS equipment manufacturers and critical infrastructure owners and operators.

“Many major critical infrastructure GPS equipment manufacturers attended this year’s S&T GET-CI event,” Mahmood said. “This made it a key engagement opportunity for the PNT program to both discover and cultivate working relationships with industry, and is a critical component of the program’s strategy for transition.”

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