Shift5 unveils tech for GPS spoofing detection and mapping

The module will be able to alert operators when they are being spoofed.
(Getty Images)

Onboard operational data company Shift5 has developed a new tool for detecting and mapping GPS spoofing, the firm announced Thursday.

Described by Shift5 as a first of its kind, the platform-agnostic solution — dubbed the GPS Integrity Module — applies to both commercial and military systems that span air, ground, rail, maritime and space.

While GPS jamming has been a mainstay for military operations for decades, spoofing is a relatively new endeavor. And as technology has become cheaper and easier to access, these capabilities are no longer reserved for sophisticated nation-states, but all the way down to civilian users.

Making matters worse, what makes spoofing much more insidious than jamming is that while jamming is apparent to operators, they likely don’t know they’re being spoofed.


“Your GPS is good until it’s not. And it’s very obvious when you’re being jammed, because you no longer have GPS as an option. If you’re flying an aircraft or something along those lines, you fall back to secondary navigation, so probably inertial,” Egon Rinderer, CTO of Shift5, told DefenseScoop in an interview. “GPS spoofing works very differently and it actually makes it more insidious, because it doesn’t erode the operator’s trust in what they’re getting from their GPS if it’s done right. It maintains their trust and what winds up happening is, it goes on long enough … your backup navigation capabilities that do very frequently calibrate off of GPS, like your inertial navigation, get poisoned by it. You’re being spoofed, you don’t realize it, your inertial backup systems calibrate off of a spoofed GPS signal, [and] now they’re affected by that same offset, whatever the offset is.”

Shift5’s module will be able to warn operators they’re being spoofed and develop that information into a library for future operations.

“We’ll give you that early warning, but what we’re also doing, and I think this is the more important matter, is we’re turning that into — just like we do with other detection capabilities — we’re turning that into effectively a library of detections. Over time, we’ll add to that library. We’ll add to it. We also allow our customer if they want to write their own,” he said, noting that government customers likely have access to classified data they can add to their library.

“What starts to come out of that is now we can start doing really interesting things like not only doing detection of different methods of GPS spoofing, but start doing attribution of those methods as well. To say, ‘Okay, this looks very much like Russian GPS spoofing,’” for example, he continued.

This effort was a direct outgrowth of talks with customers, Rinderer said.


The data already existed from the vehicle, but officials were asking for a way to warn and map when and where spoofing is occurring.

“It literally came from us having conversations with customers where our customers were saying, ‘This is a huge problem. We’re getting hit with this on a regular basis and is there anything that you can bring to the fight?’ This is a direct result of those conversations with both our DOD and our commercial customers,” he added.

Shift5’s system produces a map of where spoofing is occurring so operators can avoid those areas.

The company said the technology provides:

  • Physics-based spoofing detection to tell if changes in position are physically possible for initial spoofing detection​​.
  • Advanced detection capabilities to analyze enriched data from all sources to detect subtle and sophisticated spoofing attempts that is necessary to identifying more complex spoofing techniques.
  • Operator alerting to provide real-time notifications to operators when GPS jamming or spoofing is detected.
  • Seamless integration with existing platforms, as well as the ability to deploy directly to onboard hardware.
Mark Pomerleau

Written by Mark Pomerleau

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for DefenseScoop, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

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