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A significant increase in GPS signal jamming has been detected in Russia since 11th December 2022.
GPS jamming and spoofing is nothing new. The protocols are susceptible to blocking and spoofing, and the equipment to do so is cheap and readily available. Russia was detected interfering with GPS signals around Moscow at the start of its invasion in Ukraine and it’s a common tactic for re-directing or disabling GPS-based guidance systems such as for ballistic missiles and drones, though obviously doing so also impacts more mundane systems and civilian applications such as satellite navigation systems in vehicles and aircraft.
Given the recent drone attacks in Russia it is understandable that they may use GPS blocking techniques to try and defend against similar future attacks, though such mechanisms may impact their own defence guidance systems as well. What is interesting about this is the reported extent of the jamming with reports of jamming bubbles encircling strategic cities for hundreds to thousands of kilometres.
In order to cover such a wide expanse either very high numbers of small devices would need to be deployed or, more likely, fewer large devices. However, in the case of the latter, the strength of the signal emanating from such devices in order to cover an area of the scale reported would be very high and may damage receiving equipment. This may be beneficial when defending against attacks, but certainly not when it comes to domestic or commercial equipment and infrastructure.
Some impact has been reported along the Finland-Russia border. This, along with the impact to domestic and commercial devices, may be an unintended consequence. However, it is also worth considering that in Mexico jammers are used in 85% of cargo truck thefts. A lot of commercial operational technology and automation systems have GPS integrated into them, potentially irrespective of its criticality to the operation of the devices. If the signal strength is sufficiently high to cause damage to the unit, this may have a knock-on impact to the more critical aspects of the device.
Damage to operational technology equipment.
Delayed, loss or theft of shipments.