GPS and GNSS signals are essential but vulnerable. Attacks such as signal blocking and illicit broadcasting — where a radio transmitter near the target is used to interfere with legitimate GPS or GNSS signals — and hacking are becoming more of a threat because of the key role that GPS and GNSS play in the operation of critical infrastructure.
Satelles provides secure time and location signals from low Earth orbit (LEO) independent of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and other Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). Satelles created its Satellite Time and Location (STL) service for the purpose of safeguarding against devastating attacks to GPS/GNSS capable of disrupting or disabling electrical grids, wireless communications networks, financial systems, and other private and public infrastructure in ways that seriously imperil the safety and security of our society.
The Satellite Time and Location broadcast service from Satelles is secured by the latest cryptographic techniques to thwart malefactors aspiring to hijack or otherwise disrupt the STL signal. Furthermore, delivering STL via LEO satellites offers multiple advantages:
• 1,000x stronger signal than GPS/GNSS – better at reaching users and facilities in GPS/GNSS-challenged environments such as inside buildings, underground locations, and urban canyons
• overlapping and constantly moving spot beams – supporting revolutionary cybersecurity solutions that rely on trusted time and location for authentication
• polar-orbiting, cross-linked satellites – providing truly global coverage
• L-band frequency range – allows small, low-cost equipment to receive the Satelles STL signal
Satelles offers assured PNT at levels of stability, reliability, and trust required by commercial enterprises and government entities across a range of critical infrastructure, IoT, and cybersecurity applications. Satelles partners with satellite receiver manufacturers to incorporate STL signal support into today’s latest equipment, bringing the benefits of Satellite Time and Location to customers around the world.
Wireless communications networks around the world rely on accurate timing and synchronization from GPS (or GNSS) signals to function properly. The loss of GPS (via signal interference, cyberattack, equipment failure, or spacecraft anomaly) has been known to disable critical equipment, including macrocells, distributed antenna system (DAS) installations, and small cells. LTE networks are particularly vulnerable to timing anomalies, and often have timing requirements of one microsecond or better. Single-tower timing errors outside of this range have the potential to disrupt communications over a broad local region, and a widespread outage of GPS could potentially render communications inoperable over entire nations.
For DAS and other in-building wireless installations, STL offers the added advantage of timing signals that penetrate most structures, including buildings with low-emissivity (Low-E) windows or metal and concrete siding and roofing. This means that in-building wireless installations that leverage STL can maintain synchronous timing without the need for an external GPS antenna. This is especially important for buildings where securing roof rights, landlord permissions, or local zoning restrictions are a challenge. An indoor solution for assured PNT also lowers cost and reduces the risks of installation and maintenance.
Assured PNT is also critical in many data network environments, especially in the financial services sector where regulatory requirements are driving financial exchanges in the U.S. and other countries to adopt highly precise timestamps on incoming information and transactions to ensure transparency and prevent fraud. When milliseconds are worth millions, as in high-frequency trading, high-precision time synchronization is vital. Traders using timing feed systems based on GPS could be exposed to the risk of illicit GPS broadcasts with disastrous financial outcomes and market failures. Satellite Time and Location (STL) safeguards the integrity of time stamps by continuously cross checking against other clocks
Energy & Utilities
Energy suppliers and public utilities (electricity, oil, natural gas, water) that rely on precise timing for their operations can depend on GPS/GNSS augmentation or backup from Satellite Time and Location (STL), which is compatible with the Precision Time Protocol (PTP) / IEEE-1588 standard.
Every country’s national electrical grid is becoming more vulnerable to hacking attacks as grid operators expand the use of phase synchronization that relies on GPS/GNSS signals for timing. These synchrophasor systems utilize phasor measurement units (PMUs) for providing electrical power system reliability and grid efficiency, synchronizing services among power networks, and finding malfunctions within transmission networks.
PMUs rely on GPS to timestamp their measurements, which are sent back to a central monitoring station for processing. Blocking or tampering with the GPS signal could be used as a way to manipulate a PMU’s timestamps, thereby causing a PMU to deliver erroneous measurements regarding power frequency reading and power flow calculations. Such a scenario would likely cause some elements to overheat as well as lead to overloaded lines or transformers, potentially causing blackouts or damage to power grid equipment.
Serving as a GPS timing and synchronization backup for electrical grid applications, STL provides trusted timing and synchronization for continued reliable synchrophasor operation if GPS signals are disrupted or compromised.
GNSS issues caused by signal interference or satellite anomalies are a risk to seafaring vessels using GNSS for navigation, potentially causing them to delay their departures or cut short their journeys. However, cyberattacks aiming to mislead GNSS represent a far more significant threat. Counterfeit signals can be difficult to detect because the signal appears to be genuine. When an illicit signal broadcast by a malign actor with nefarious intent hijacks a legitimate GNSS signal and transmits fake positioning information, ships at sea veer off course without even knowing it — potentially into dangerous waters.
Available worldwide today via low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellites, Satellite Time and Location (STL) from Satelles provides an alternative navigation to GNSS, delivering a solution for mariners’ peace of mind. As a reliable location source, Satelles can support applications that provide an early warning and direct mitigation for potentially inauthentic signals if the reported locations from STL and GPS/GNSS are no longer in agreement. With an cryptographically secure signal that is over 1,000 times more powerful than GNSS and impervious to being blocked or faked, STL delivers a strong and secure signal to every corner of the globe to keep vessels safe.
Security authentication has typically been based on three factors — something you know (password, PIN), something you have (physical key, security token, access card), something you are (fingerprint, voice, iris pattern) — but a fourth factor is becoming more prevalent: somewhere you are.
A growing number of commercial and government applications depend on GPS to validate the location of a user attempting to access a sensitive system, resource, or physical space, but the challenge is that GPS can be easily hijacked. The powerful and cryptographically secure Satellite Time and Location (STL) signal from Satelles is impervious to cyberattacks, making it more reliable than GPS for location-based authentication.