NASA Is Testing Hardware to Fend Off GPS Hackers

(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- Vehicles that rely on GPS navigation are vulnerable to spoofing, the sending of phony signals to lead them off their intended course. The palm-size Pyramid GPS SP from Regulus Cyber Ltd. uses a bundle of antennas and receivers to make sure the signals it’s reading are legit.

NASA Is Testing Hardware to Fend Off GPS Hackers

How It Works

① A user plugs the Pyramid into a car or drone between the GPS receiver and control systems, or a manufacturer builds it in.
 
② The device triangulates the source of the signals it’s receiving by combining five antennas and onboard GPS receivers. Signals from unexpected directions trigger an alert.
 
③ The Pyramid switches to navigation from a route it downloaded before starting the trip, then back to live GPS data when it no longer detects any suspicious signals.

 
• Innovators: Yonatan Zur and Yoav Zangvil, ages 41 and 39
Chief executive officer and chief technical officer of Regulus Cyber, an 11-employee startup in Haifa, Israel

 
• Origin: Zur and Zangvil, co‑workers at Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems Ltd., founded Regulus at the end of 2016 with an eye to improving commercial drone security.

 
• Funding: The company has raised $6.3 million from Sierra Ventures, Canaan Partners Israel, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and F2 Capital.

 
• Early tests: NASA has been testing prototype Pyramid technology in drones in North Dakota. Zur says SwissDrones Operating AG and AT&T Inc. are also in the middle of trial runs.

Next Steps

Zur says Regulus is in talks with makers of cars and drones, as well as operators of car and truck fleets, to conduct more trials later this year, and it aims to bring the Pyramid to market in 2019. As more autonomous vehicles hit the streets, there’ll be a growing need for protection against GPS spoofing, says Jonathan Petit, senior director of research at software maker OnBoard Security Inc. Regulus says it’s refining its technology to help defend the lidar, camera, and radar systems that help steer self-driving cars.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.