(March 19 2018) -- A new study by researchers Nikolaos Gatsis, David Akopian and Ahmad F. Taha and their graduate student Ali Khalajmehrabadi from the UTSA Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering describes a computer algorithm that mitigates the effects of spoofed GPS attacks on electrical grids and other GPS-reliant technologies. This new algorithm has the potential to help cybersecurity professionals to better detect and prevent cyber attacks in real time.
“Malicious agents have the ability to disrupt a device’s understanding of time and location by emitting a signal that is pretending to be a GPS signal,” Gatsis said. “This can be very harmful in several different realms of technology.”
The U.S. electrical power grid, for example, depends on GPS to give time stamps for its measurements at stations across the country. Although reliable, researchers in laboratories across the world have shown that the system can be vulnerable to spoofing cyber-attacks that can disrupt the system’s time and location data.
“In broad terms, malicious cyber-attackers can clone the GPS signal and display, for instance, the wrong time or the wrong location,” Akopian said. “This can wreak all sorts of havoc. It can send people to the wrong location or render hours of data useless.”
The trio’s algorithm, which can be applied to cell phones or computers as easily as a new app, has the ability to recognize false GPS signals and counter an attack while it occurs. Their main focus has been preventing attacks on the American electrical power grid, but the algorithm is applicable to several different devices.
“As we move forward with this concept of driverless cars, it becomes much more vital that we secure our GPS signals because the hijacking of the location abilities of a driverless car could be very dangerous,” Taha said. “Beyond that, cell phone towers and banks also use GPS signals. Every day, hundreds of thousands of measurements of time and location are made using this information—and it’s important to make the data secure.”
Akopian, Gatsis and Taha’s work is funded by a nearly $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, which was awarded in 2017. They are now exploring plans to make their algorithm available in app stores for Android and iPhone users, as well as for larger devices like computers.
UTSA is ranked among the top four universities in the nation under 50 years old, according to Times Higher Education.
Read David Akopian, Nikolaos Gatsis and Ahmad F. Taha’s study “Real-Time Rejection and Mitigation of Time Synchronization Attacks on the Global Positioning System.”
Learn more about the UTSA Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering.
The Roadrunner community and nearby residents are highly encouraged to cast their votes at UTSA, a designated early voting site for the March 3 Texas presidential primary election.H-E-B Student Union, Bexar Room (HSU 1.102), Main Campus
The best way to learn what UTSA has to offer is to experience it for yourself. Come to our Open House and see all that UTSA has to offer. The day features admissions and financial aid workshops and presentations, campus tours and much more.Various Locations, Main Campus
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in health care, you won’t want to miss UTSA’s 14th annual Health Professions Day. Meet with representatives of health professions programs at schools such as Texas Tech University Health Science Center, University of Texas Medical Branch, University North Texas Health Science Center, University of the Incarnate Word, and many more. Free and open to UTSA students, local area college and high school students, and community members.Student Union, Retama Galleria (SU First Floor Corridor), Main Campus
An FBI subject matter expert will discuss the threat to U.S. technology and public sector from foreign adversaries, specific technologies sought and vectors used to illicitly obtain them, how to best safeguard intellectual property.Durango Building (DB 2.112A), Downtown Campus
Why just leap when you can dash? The Alumni Association’s 36th annual Diploma Dash 5K and City Championship is a great opportunity to run or walk for a great cause: scholarships for UTSA students.Main Campus
Students are encouraged to attend to obtain important information about Spring Commencement and life after UTSA. Graduating students can order their cap and gown and other items, win prizes and capture lasting memories with fellow Roadrunners at a selfie station. Participants should take a UTSA student ID for entry.H-E-B Student Union, Ballrooms (HSU 1.104/1.106), Main Campus
UTSA’s first Wellbeing Fair is a part of the President’s Initiative of Enriching Campus Wellbeing. UTSA is committed to the well-being of each member of the campus community and recognizes that numerous factors contribute to overall wellness: physical and mental health, diet and nutrition, physical activity, stress management and self-care, social behaviors and more. The fair will give students, faculty and staff an opportunity to participate in well-being activities, obtain well-being information and learn about available services. Participants will become more competent in making healthy decisions to take a more proactive approach in their own well-being.Paseo Principal, Student Union, Main Campus
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