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Providing opportunities for both established and new players

Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) have clearly become part of our daily lives whether it is through the use of navigation and localization systems or the synchronization of time on your connected devices.


Following up our previous post on our investment in Regulus Cyber and the rise of spoofing and jamming attacks, this post aims to shed light on the rather fragmented GNSS-related ecosystem, the myriad of use cases this technology enables, and the associated cyber risks that create new opportunities for protection.

GNSS Market Insights

As for 2021, the installed base of GNSS devices is about to cross the 10 billion mark globally, representing an average of 1.3 devices per capita. According to the European GNSS agency (GSA), already in 2019 global revenues generated from the sale of chipsets, receivers, devices and services amounted to EUR 150 billion, and are forecasted to continue their growth with a CAGR of 8% p.a., thus reaching EUR 325 billion by 2029. 


Sources: 2019 GNSS Market Report from GSA, btov research

The market is usually split between hardware and services, in order to get a better understanding of this ecosystem we decided to break it down vertically into three layers which are split in different segments.

Breaking-down the Ecosystem

The base layer represents the building blocks of the technology and is split between satellite operators, chipset manufacturers and receiver manufacturers, without which GNSS signals would neither be transmitted nor received.

The middle layer described as devices and platforms is split in two segments between device manufacturers and system integrators, represent all hardware and software adaptation of the technology for specific industry use-cases.

Finally the top layer represents the different applications of the technology per industry. This layer is divided into five well known GNSS segments with Transport & Logistics, Security, Consumer Solutions, Agriculture & Geomatics and Critical Infrastructure.


Source: btov research

Cybersecurity Use Cases in GNSS

As of today with its many applications, GNSS is powering around 7% of the global GDP, and thus is critical for many industries and individuals. With this high value at stake, the market recently attracted greater attention from hackers performing cyber attacks in the form of jamming and spoofing.

These of course started with minor attacks like people using cheap spoofing systems or software-defined radios to for instance hide their location from someone, cheat at Pokemon GO or to commit other not harmful attacks. Or a truck driver unconsciously shutting down an entire airport’s satellite-based tracking system by passing the runway with a jamming system so his employer would not be able to track him.

More recently these type of events have taken a whole different perspective and raised the attention of governments with e.g. the U.S. declaring the need for reinforced security in the maritime and logistics industries, the Federal Aviation Association demonstrating the high number of jamming and spoofing signals received by airliners, or even the recent hacking of Garmin’s servers in July 2020, where the GPS technology and service provider was forced to pay a USD 10m ransom to gain access to their systems again.

These are just a few examples highlighting the rising need for robust cybersecurity solutions in order to ensure GNSS signal protection across applications.

Strategic Rationale per GNSS Application

The following table illustrates in detail the main rationales behind the implementation of a GNSS security solution for different applications. Putting aside the industry-specific motives, companies part of this layer of the ecosystem have a strong need for cybersecurity coverage as the largest part of the whole GNSS market revenue is generated here, thus making them very attractive targets for hackers.


Source: btov analysis

For the Transport & Logistics segment the benefits of GNSS security would include a more precise and safer development of autonomous vehicles, more accurate asset tracking whether for passengers or cargos, and better scheduling and synchronization of connected transports thanks to the avoidance of false signals and cyberattacks, among others.

It goes without saying that any company in the field of Defence and Security is in need for some serious cybersecurity protection, including solutions against jamming and spoofing attacks, which so far are mainly expensive hardware-based solutions that require costly maintenance and are not always up-to-date contrary to entirely software-based solutions, such as from Regulus Cyber.

The Consumer Solutions segment accounts for approximately 38% of the global GNSS market driven by smartphone sales, apps, AR and other connected wearable devices. With the rising number of connected devices resulting in an increased amount of personal data being gathered as part of business models, including Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT), it is only logical to be protected adequately. Opposite to the security segment, hardware-based solutions are not applicable here, justifying the need for a software-based security solution.

Besides Transport & Logistics and Consumer Solutions, Agriculture & Geomatics is the third highest revenue-generating segment of the ecosystem with current security offerings being extremely limited if not non-existing. With the increasing use of autonomous vehicles and machinery for agriculture, resource extraction and construction, GNSS security will become essential to ensure efficiency and safety for the machine operators.

Regarding the Critical Infrastructure segment, certain cybersecurity solutions are already in use to ensure synchronization and accuracy of multiple timing systems, such as in the financial industry or in telecommunication. As the technology is becoming fairly easy to hack, improving these solutions will ensure the precision of PNT data, thus protecting the accuracy and reliability of these critical infrastructure networks.

New Opportunities

Summed up, with the rising use of GNSS technologies across different industries, it is unfortunately expected that more and more companies and individuals will be harmed financially and in the worst cases physically, such as in a car accident, by spoofing and jamming attacks. Implementing efficient cybersecurity software is the key to ensure accurate and synchronized signal transmission across the whole GNSS ecosystem. Here, both established and new cybersecurity players can help further developing and commercializing this essential technology towards zero risk.

Article originally written by Sven Eppert & Charles Tissot, published on Medium - https://medium.com/brains-to-ventures/the-rising-need-of-cybersecurity-in-the-gnss-related-ecosystem-2adb9aa56840

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