Weekly Takeaways-January 25, 2022
Updated: Mar 11
Theme of the Week
The Clock Lock All networks, communications, and power grids require a common time standard. This is the role that GPS fell into - a global clock delivered from space via a weak RF signal. But this signal is woefully insecure and easy to jam and spoof (see below). Information security comes from the CIA triad (no, not that CIA), to protect against outsiders getting access to (confidentiality), modifying (integrity), and disrupting access to your information (availability). The signal from GPS does not meet this security level because it is:
Unencrypted (at least for civilian users), breaking Confidentiality
Unauthenticated, breaking Integrity
Easy to jam, breaking Availability
Former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has joined the growing chorus of experts calling for the US to catch up with China in technology investment, including quantum, through government and private sector cooperation under the $110B United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021. “China has made it a point to invest a tremendous amount in artificial intelligence, in quantum, in robotics, and in cyber, and their whole intent is to try to jump ahead of the United States,” Panetta said.
The US Government released a National Security Memorandum “on Improving the Cybersecurity of National Security, Department of Defense, and Intelligence Community Systems,” and instructs the National Security Agency to release documents relating to “quantum resistant protocols, and planning for use of quantum resistant cryptography where necessary.”
Following on the heels of a Seraphim report that showed record investment in space, the Space Capital Space Investment Quarterly reported: "VCs invested $17.1B into 328 space companies in 2021, accounting for 3% of total global venture capital flows. This beats the previous annual record year of $9.1B, set in 2020."
No surprise that the last two years have hastened the migration of workers and startups out of Silicon Valley. According to PitchBook and CNBC, investment in Silicon Valley and Seattle startups dipped below 30 percent for the first time and was 40 percent lower than 2014.
The More You Know...
The Association of Old Crows hosted an interesting presentation on the history of GPS spoofing. According to the Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation, jamming is relatively commonplace. While the US does not track this, the European GNSS Agency evaluated nearly 451,000 reported jamming events and found that roughly 10% were intentional. But spoofing, the ability to fake a GPS signal, is more sophisticated. As a concept, it has been around a long time and was even featured in the 1997 James Bond movie "Tomorrow Never Dies." But over the last decade it has become a reality:
June 2013 - UT Austin researchers coerced a ship off course using a spoofing device.
December 2015 - the DHS reported that drug traffickers are spoofing border drones.
2017 - Strange locations were reported in isolated incidents in the Black Sea, Russia, and Africa. Suspiciously, this all seemed to occur wherever Russian VIPS were traveling.
June 2018 - Article demonstrated a universal spoofing device that can spoof GPS, Galileo, and Beidu signals all at once with $400 of materials.
April 2019 - car at the Geneva Motor Show seemed to magically transport to the UK and the year 2036, according to their navigation displays.
June 2019 - Iran shot down a drone that wandered into their airspace for reasons that were unclear, though spoofing was suspected.