Can your PNT Systems survive the next cyberattack?


PNT technology is used in various industries and critical infrastructure systems, making it an attractive target for cyber threats. PNT systems are susceptible to interference, disruption, and cyberattacks, which can lead to significant disruptions, including lost revenue, loss of life and economic damage. ADVA Oscilloquartz has developed an intelligent PNT technology called aPNT+™ that offers enhanced resilience, security, and robustness for critical infrastructure timing. aPNT+™ is designed to mitigate faults and provide backup options to ensure uninterrupted and accurate timing that meets the strictest industry timing requirements. The solution's advanced technology provides ultra-accurate and stable timing, defence against cyber threats, and reduced cost. aPNT+™ is a trusted solution for transportation, communication, defence, energy, finance, and data centres that depend on accurate timing.

The Growing Importance of PNT Technologies

PNT, which stands for Positioning, Navigation, and Timing, is a technology that helps us figure out where we are, where we're going, and what time it is. PNT has become increasingly important, as it is used in a wide range of applications, from navigation systems in cars and aeroplanes to location services on our smartphones.

One of the most well-known PNT systems is the Global Positioning System (GPS), which uses a network of satellites to provide location and timing information to users around the world. GPS has transformed many industries, from transportation to agriculture, by enabling precise positioning and navigation.

But PNT is not just about convenience - it also plays a critical role in our national security and infrastructure. The military depends on PNT for navigation, targeting, and timing of operations, while emergency services use it for disaster response and search and rescue missions. PNT is also integral to many critical infrastructure systems, including transportation, energy, and telecommunications. For example, it helps keep track of things like where goods and people are moving, makes sure that power grids are working safely and efficiently, and makes sure that telecommunications networks are all in sync.

Despite the widespread adoption of PNT technologies like GPS, these systems are not impervious to vulnerabilities. In fact, they are susceptible to a range of threats that could have significant impacts on critical infrastructure systems.

The Vulnerabilities of PNT Systems

One of the main vulnerabilities of PNT systems is their reliance on a small number of satellites or signal sources. This makes them vulnerable to interference or disruption, either from natural phenomena like solar flares, or from intentional attacks like jamming or spoofing. For example, if someone with harmful intentions were to send fake GPS signals, it could cause navigation systems to direct planes or ships in the wrong direction, which could result in accidents or collisions.

PNT systems are also vulnerable to cyberattacks. As more critical infrastructure systems rely on PNT for timing and synchronisation, they become more attractive targets for cyber criminals or state-sponsored hackers. A cyberattack on PNT systems could cause significant disruptions to transportation, energy, and telecommunications systems, potentially leading to economic damage and even loss of life.

Physical attacks or natural disasters can also damage or destroy critical infrastructure components of PNT systems. For example, a terrorist attack on a GPS ground station could impact the availability of GPS signals over a wide area, while a hurricane or earthquake could damage PNT antennas.

These vulnerabilities are further compounded by the fact that PNT systems are used in numerous applications, including navigation, transportation, critical infrastructure, and military operations, making them attractive targets for cyber threats that can affect their accuracy and reliability.

Understanding the Various Cyber Threats to PNT Systems and the Need for Enhanced Security Measures

One of the most common cyber threats is GPS spoofing. This happens when someone transmits false GPS signals to deceive a GPS receiver, causing it to provide incorrect location or timing information. This type of attack can be done using low-cost equipment, making it easy to carry out.

Another common cyber threat is GPS jamming. This happens when someone intentionally transmits radio signals on the same frequency as GPS signals, causing interference with the reception of GPS signals. GPS jamming can cause a total loss of GPS signal, making it impossible to determine accurate location or timing information, which can severely affect critical operations like emergency response, search and rescue, and military operations.

However, these are not the only threat to PNT systems. Cyber espionage attacks can compromise the security of PNT systems, potentially resulting in illegal use or manipulation of data, and counterfeit products. Additionally, cyber sabotage attacks can physically damage PNT systems, leading to significant disruptions, including loss of life and property damage. Therefore, it is crucial for PNT system operators to implement adequate security measures to protect against cyber threats and other risks. Failure to do so can result in severe impacts on PNT systems and the applications they support.

The Intelligent and Resilient Solution for Critical Infrastructure Timing and Security

To prevent disruptions caused by cyber threats, it's crucial to ensure resilience against these attacks. ADVA Oscilloquartz has developed an intelligent PNT technology called aPNT+™, which is designed to provide enhanced resilience, security, and robustness for critical infrastructure timing. The aPNT+™ technology is based on guidelines from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). It incorporates advanced technologies such as AI, multi-band and multi-constellation GNSS receiver technology to provide an autonomous and resilient PNT platform.

aPNT+™ ensures the best possible protection against natural disasters, terrorist activities and cyber threats.It not only defends against intentional attacks, but also protects against accidental disruptions such as jamming or shadowing of antennas. Furthermore, aPNT+™ has the ability to overcome technical problems such as defects of PNT devices or communication network outages. The aPNT+™ features redundant backup options and fault mitigation strategies, which reinforce its reliability. This makes it a trusted solution for transportation, communication, energy, defence, finance, and data centres that depend on precise timing.

aPNT+™ is an effective and trusted solution that ensures the safety and efficiency of critical infrastructure systems, without compromising their security against cyber threats.

The benefits of aPNT+ include:

  • Enhanced Resilience: aPNT+ offers high-level resilience against cyber threats, technical failures, natural disasters, and other forms of disruptions that can affect critical infrastructure and its precise timing.
  • Improved Precision and Accuracy: The solution's advanced technology, such as autonomous magnetic and optical cesium atomic clocks, provides ultra-accurate, resilient, and stable timing that meets the strictest industry timing requirements.
  • Increased Security: aPNT+ provides defence against jamming, spoofing, and cyber threats, ensuring that malicious activity is detected immediately and timing is derived from uncompromised sources.
  • Reduced Cost: The solution's extensive portfolio of scalable Oscilloquartz grandmaster devices features multi-band, multi-constellation GNSS receiver technology that provides operators of critical infrastructure with a solution toolbox equipped for any threat landscape, even without an atomic cesium clock, which significantly reduces cost.
  • AI-Empowered Management: The Ensemble Controller and Sync Director deliver real-time analytics of the end-to-end sync network for intelligent fail-safe prevention, response, and recovery whenever problems arise.


In conclusion, as our dependence on PNT systems continues to grow, it becomes increasingly crucial to develop and implement cutting-edge solutions like aPNT+™ that not only meet the demands of the present but also anticipate and address the challenges of the future. By doing so, we can ensure the ongoing security, resilience, and reliability of the invisible compass that guides us through our interconnected world.

What’s your PNT Resilience?

Contact us today or call us on 1800 COVERTEL (1800 268 378) to discuss your requirements for innovative and efficient solutions that will exceed your expectations.

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