DHS S&T Transitions Resilient PNT Framework to IEEE for Standards Development
Tuesday, July 13, 2021 | Comments

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) transitioned its Resilient Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Conformance Framework to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) as an approved project, which will further refine the framework into international industry standards for resilient PNT user equipment.

“The transition of this joint effort between DHS S&T and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) National Risk Management Center (NRMC) marks a major milestone for the department and will impact the future design, acquisition and deployment of resilient PNT systems within our national critical infrastructure,” said Kathryn Coulter Mitchell, DHS senior official performing the duties of the under secretary, DHS S&T.

PNT services, such as GPS are more than just a navigation tool and are “invisible utilities” that enable many applications within critical infrastructure, including the electric grid, telecommunications, agriculture and port operations. PNT services are a national critical function and, if disrupted or manipulated, have the potential to adversely affect the national and economic security of the United States.

To address the issue of GPS vulnerabilities within critical infrastructure, DHS S&T and CISA NRMC worked in collaboration with industry and government stakeholders to develop the Resilient PNT Conformance Framework, which provides a common framework for defining resilient PNT systems and addresses strategic risks to U.S. national critical infrastructure. The framework is non-prescriptive and defines four levels of resilience so that end users can select a level appropriate for their needs. This common framework will enable critical infrastructure owners and operators to make risk-informed decisions when determining the most appropriate PNT systems to deploy.

“To address security and resilience, GPS and PNT receivers need to be treated more like computers rather than radios,” said S&T Technical Manager Ernest Wong, S&T Technical Manager. “The refinement of the Resilient PNT Conformance Framework into industry standards will help to ensure future PNT receivers are resilient and designed to withstand and recover from threats.”

The IEEE Working Group “Standard for Resilient Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) User Equipment” is sponsored by IEEE COM/NetSoft-SC under P1952.

“The DHS Conformance Framework was a significant step forward in our efforts to ensure GPS receivers are secure and users can build resilience into their PNT systems,” said CISA Assistant Director Bob Kolasky. “When coupled with the concepts found in the responsible use of the PNT executive order, we can significantly improve the security and resilience of operations within critical infrastructure that are reliant on PNT services. We look forward to working with IEEE as they develop these formal industry standards.”

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