Trump signs executive order to guard critical infrastructure that relies on GPS

United Press International

President Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order that directs federal agencies to take steps to reduce the disruption of critical infrastructure that relies on positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) services like GPS.

The executive order is aimed at strengthening the resilience of critical infrastructure that relies on PNT services, including systems involved in transportation, electricity delivery and communications. Officials billed it as the “first-ever” executive order on PNT use. 

“The national and economic security of the United States depends on the reliable and efficient functioning of critical infrastructure,” the executive order states.

“Because of the widespread adoption of PNT services, the disruption or manipulation of these services has the potential to adversely affect the national and economic security of the United States. To strengthen national resilience, the Federal Government must foster the responsible use of PNT services by critical infrastructure owners and operators,” it states.

Specifically, the order directs the Department of Commerce to develop so-called PNT profiles that will be used to enable both the public and the private sector to identify risks to networks posed by PNT services and identify “appropriate” PNT services.

“Once we have an understanding of how the PNT is being used by the various sectors and subsectors within the 16 national critical infrastructure sectors, from there will be able to start developing pilots and informing procurement decisions by the federal government on how we move forward with the procurement of devices that apply and use PNT,” a senior administration official told reporters Wednesday morning. 

The order also requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop a plan within the year to test the vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure systems and networks to disruption or manipulation by PNT services.  

The executive order requires DHS and the departments of Transportation and Energy to create plans within 180 days on how each agency intends to engage with critical infrastructure partners to ensure secure use of PNT services. 

The Office of Science and Technology Policy will also coordinate a national plan within one year of the executive order that provides for research and development into secure PNT services that will not be dependent on global navigation satellite systems. 

The order was released months after the Defense Department released its own strategy around PNT services, which emphasized the dangers posed by an individual or group leveraging GPS for military advantage. As part of the strategy, the Defense Department vowed to keep information around its PNT efforts largely classified to cut down on national security threats. 

DHS has previously addressed potential vulnerabilities involved with PNT, with the agency noting on its website that GPS’s “space-based signals are low-power and unencrypted, making them susceptible to both intentional and unintentional disruption.”

Tags Donald Trump Executive Order GPS PNT services

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