Extensive Russian GPS Spoofing Exposed in Report

Recently a US non-profit known as the Center of Advanced Defense (C4ADS) released a report titled "Exposing GPS Spoofing in Russia and Syria". In the report C4ADS detail how GPS and Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) spoofing is used extensively by Russia for VIP protection, strategic facility protection and for airspace denial in combat zones such as Syria. Using simple analysis methods that civilians can use, they were able to detect multiple spoofing events. 

GNSS spoofing involves creating a much stronger fake GNSS signal that receivers lock on to, instead of the actual positioning satellites. The fake signal is used to either jam GNSS signals, or report an incorrect location of the spoofers choice.

In the report, C4ADS mention how they used AIS data to identify 9,883 instances of GNSS spoofing which affected 1,311 commercial vessels since the beginning of February 2016. AIS is a marine vessel tracking system similar to the ADS-B tracking system that is used on aircraft. It works by broadcasting on board GPS data to nearby ships for collision avoidance. Although they don't appear to mention their AIS data sources, sites like marinetraffic.com collect and aggregate AIS data submitted by volunteer stations. By looking for anomalies in the collected AIS data, such as ships suddenly appearing at airports, they are able to determine when GNSS spoofing events occurred. 

An airport is chosen by Russia as the spoofed location presumably because most commercial drone manufacturers do not allow their drones to fly when their GPS shows them near an airport. This prevents commercial drones from being able to fly in spoofed areas.

C4ADS Research shows GPS spoofing detected via AIS data
C4ADS Research shows GPS spoofing detected via AIS data

Using AIS data, the researchers were also able to determine that the Russian president uses GNSS spoofing to create a bubble of protection around him. During a visit to the Kerch Bridge in annexed Crimea the researchers found that some vessels near his location suddenly began appearing at a nearby airport. Similar events were detected at multiple other visits by the Russian president.

Another interesting method they used to determine GNSS anomalies was to look at position heatmaps derived from fitness tracking apps. These phone/smart watch apps are often used by runners to log a route and to keep track of distance ran, speeds etc. The researchers found that runners going through central Moscow would sometimes suddenly appear to be at one of two Moscow airports. 

In a previous post we showed how Amungo Navigation's NUT4NT+ system was used to detect and locate GPS anomalies at the Kremlin. The C4ADS report also notes how several other Russian government facilities also show signs of GPS anomalies. Of interest, from photos they also saw that the Kremlin has an 11-element direction finding array which could be used to locate civilian drone controllers.

Finally, in the last sections they show how C4ADS and UT Austin used a GPS receiver on board the International Space Station (ISS) to monitor a GPS spoofer at an airbase in Syria. Using Doppler analysis they were able to determine the location of the spoofer and confirm that it is likely the cause of multiple complaints of GPS interference by marine vessels in the area.

C4ADS and UT Texas determine the location of a GPS spoofer in Syria via ISS GPS data
C4ADS and UT Texas determine the location of a GPS spoofer in Syria via ISS GPS data

The BBC also ran a story on this which is available here.

23 comments

  1. Ac

    You can ask people on the streets in Crimea, most voted to join Russia and want to live in Russia, that’s a fact. Secondly, the referendum is a consequence of the illegal seizure of power on the Maidan in 2014. First, Ukraine was occupied by radicals Nazis, then the Crimea did not want to be occupied and asked for help from Russia.

    • TrollDetector

      Keep your propaganda for your brain trainned with “nazis” … in Russia there are more neogroup that are linked to … so your story to protect people is just a brainwashing operated by Kremlin for weak mind !
      Can you recall us what is -> Russian National Unity ??
      Slavic Union when most of members do the nazi salute ??
      All the group linked to “Pamyat” Vs Nazi Party.

      They do not asked help … Poutine annexed the crimea to put weapons and keep the naval base without renting it to Crimea ! And do not come about the story with the fake story about Crimea always belonged to russia … this is a fake news ! Tatars was the real one ! And Kroutchev at the time had not so much power to give Crimea to Ukraina.
      Of course your forget the Budapest Memorandum … if Russia is so far a “democratic” country … why they do not give back “Georgia” ??? And Kourilles Island to Japan ? Island annexed by Staline ?

      You are just a troll with no education and no history background !

      • Ac

        More words “Troll” and “propaganda” please. Any country has a certain number of Nazis. But in Ukraine, they seized the government, made Nazism the official ideology, Bandera and Shukhevich – the official heroes, and the day of creation of the OUN-UPA 14.10 – a public holiday. An organization that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians just because they were not Ukrainians. Killed in the most horrible ways. If you think that they are heroes, you are the same sick fuck as they are.

    • arpeedarpee

      russia violated a modern treaty in the annexation of Crimea and Donetsk. Ukraine agreed to give up the nuclear weapons on it’s soil when the USSR fell apart, but only if their territory and sovereignty were protected and respected. Sadly, Russia trampled all over the treaty, and the west did nothing.

      • Ac

        Nuclear weapons do not help from the Maidan and the seizure of power by revolution. This is the cheapest way to capture countries, and the West loves to use it. If Russia had not returned the Crimea, it would have become an independent state, like Donetsk now, but in any case not Ukrainian.

        • Val

          Without direct interference from Russia both Crimea and Donbass would remain peaceful parts of Ukraine, just like the rest of Ukraine currently is.

          • Ac

            Almost right, except for a few words. Without direct interference from Europe and US both Crimea and Donbass would remain peaceful parts of Ukraine. Kaczynski, Protasevich, Baramidze, Saakashvili, Koval, Catherine Ashton, Victoria Nuland, Jeffrey Pyett, John McCain, Rebecca Harms, Chris Murphy, Stephen Page, Luke Stelle, Simon Smith. It only those who personally was present and acted on the Maidan. Not to mention other ways to support. How do you think, such interfering in the internal politics of States is a violation of international law or not?

  2. TrollDetector

    Yes Yes … Russians troll are @work … LoL
    Crimea regional referendum with fake data ? How much tatars voted for ?
    Hoo none they were forbidden to vote!
    97% of residents… Again a new fake story … as thousands ukrainian left and were forced to leave the crimea !
    So the 230,000 Crimean Tatars in residence is only 3% ??

    In 2018 Crimea had 1,492,000 Russians 65,3% , nearly 16% of ukrainiens and 12 % of tatar … so how you get 97% of citizen ? How have you learn math in russia troll factory ?

    Regional referendum with armed people with automatic gun , masked … and of course you forget to explain us that ballot were transparent to check what people were voting to force them to vote !

    Poutine do not care about crimea people … he just wanted to stop to lease the naval base and get army in black sea !

    * Why all prices jumped for food / goods since annextion ?
    * Why almost all structure are not updated since annextion ?
    * Why Medvedev told to people living there , when they were compain about wagges ? -> We have no more money but you have the sun !!! LoL … .
    * Promised to be a full russian holidays place … no one are going there … a proof ? Just check the webcam online when summer vacation … beach & hotel / restaurant place are nearly empty !
    So empty that Kremlin forced some russians to choose crimea as holidays … LoL

    Mafia people promised many things to citizens … now they see how they get cheated … but too late ! And of course too dangerous to tell the truth … so only in underground they speak !
    During this time … there is no good life situation … but they have last weapons … to protect poor people !

  3. Val

    Interesting article, thanks.
    Yes, it’s not unusual for GPS to be jammed. However responsible governments make sure it doesn’t create navigation problems for civil aircraft. They notify everyone well ahead.
    —————————
    In one Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) German authorities announced that from July 6th to July 9th:

    “Due to G20 summit possible GPS interference should be expected with in Hamburg TMA” (terminal maneuver area)

    In another NOTAM they said that, for the same time period and because of possible GPS interference due to the G20 summit, approach procedures that used GPS were temporarily suspended.

    It’s not unusual to see NOTAMs cautioning that GPS might not be reliable. We just did a quick check and found there are 42 current NOTAMs in the US cautioning about GPS reliability.

    Internationally, routine warnings to aircraft of unreliable GPS have been posted for the Philippines, Turkey, Egypt, and North Korea.

    • another idiot

      @Val

      Thank you, its just no one notified me – I was playing with GPS during G20 in that city 🙁

      I tried to get my robot to follow lat/lon waypoints and wondered why it did not work.

  4. another idiot

    As if this would be something extraordinary. Seen in action during G20 in Hamburg/Germany for example..

      • Dragan

        Just pointing out the usual double standards so prevalent in the “west”. It is always “The Russians”, “Kremlin propaganda” etc and newer “The Americans” or “White house propaganda”.

  5. angry reader

    Do not repeat the lies of your politicians about the annexation.
    Crimea in March 2014 became part of Russia after the regional referendum. Then, 96.77% of residents of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea voted for reunification (with a turnout of 83.1%), in Sevastopol – 95.6% of citizens (with a turnout of 89.5%).

    • Val

      The “referendum” has been illegal (and rigged, but that doesn’t really matter) and you know that. And if somebody called for a referendum to separate a part from Russia, this person would go to jail according to Russia’s law.

      • Ac

        The difference is that at that time there was no legal power in Ukraine. Ukraine was occupied by the Nazis on the Maidan. Illegally. Without any elections, referendums, just a seizure of power. Crimea did not want to be occupied and submit to illegal power.

        • Navalny2019

          OMG, russian trolls are on RTL-SDR as well… Go drink some cool aid, tovarisch. Feed your propaganda to your russian comrades instead – they are happy to consume it. УродЪ.

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