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SnT and itrust aim to prevent positioning data manipulations

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Published on Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Determining the exact position of a person, a vehicle or physical objects is becoming increasingly important in our mobile society. Reliable data, for example on the location of dangerous goods, is valuable. Also, tolls will be charged on the basis of the satellite localisation. For all these uses, using reliable localisation data is essential. However, this poses a challenge for engineers and scientists as positioning data can be manipulated too easily.

The research centre SnT - Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust - at the University of Luxembourg, and the Luxembourg engineering experts at itrust consulting have, in order to jointly develop an improved technology, entered a long-term partnership. itrust is now, after having signed the cooperation agreement, a member of SnT’s partnership programme, which already includes six other industrial and governmental partners.

itrust consulting, founded in 2007 by Dr. Carlo Harpes, specialises in secure information systems. The SME performs consulting services, audit, design and implementation of security solutions protecting its clients against data divulgation, data manipulations, and service unavailability. This research project funded by the European Space Agency (ESA), will develop the technical solutions and a prototype for secure and private positioning solution provider.

The technical problems, that scientists and engineers face, can be readily explained. More difficult however, are the solutions, since positioning systems can easily be manipulated. “We here refer to the so-called ‘GPS Spoofing’, which means sending out fake signals. Through interfering transmitters attached to a vehicle, purposefully transmitting false data, such a manipulation could occur,” Professor Sjouke Mauw, project manager at SnT, explains. In this way, a stolen car could “pretend” to still be at its previous location even though it actually already is in a foreign country. The consequences may be limited in the case of a private car, but when transporting dangerous goods, such criminal activity is far more severe.

The scientists at SnT, together with the experts at itrust, now aim to develop a service provider system that can detect such manipulations. Dr. Carlo Harpes, Managing Director of itrust consulting acknowledges: "besides auditing and consulting on Information Security, itrust has been involved since 2007 in four large-scale European R&D projects. This partnership is an opportunity to use our knowledge and best practices to demonstrate a commercial service to ensure localisation beyond the potential of current GPS receivers while sharing our expertise with the SnT".

Prof. Björn Ottersten, Director of SnT expressed his appreciation of this cooperation. "We are very pleased to welcome itrust to our partnership programme. As an enterprise with expertise in security and trust, itrust is an ideal research partner for SnT. Together, we will design and analyze ways to achieve a high level of integrity and privacy into localisation based on systems such as GPS and Galileo", says Prof. Björn Ottersten, Director of SnT.


Prof. Dr. Sjouke Mauw
SnT – University of Luxembourg
Tel.: +352 46 66 44 5480
E-Mail: sjouke.mauw@uni.lu
www.uni.lu/snt www.itrust.lu

Dr. Carlo Harpes
itrust consulting s.à r.l.
Tel.: +352 2617 6212
E-Mail: harpes@itrust.lu