NIST Issues ‘Foundational Profile’ for Secure GPS Use

Blue Planet Studio/Shutterstock.com

An executive order instructed the Commerce Department to produce profiles—plural—that sector-specific agencies could use to develop contractual language on the issue. 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology released new guidance based on its cybersecurity framework toward satisfying an executive order on securely using position, navigation and timing services like the Global Positioning System.

“Formally titled Foundational PNT Profile: Applying the Cybersecurity Framework for the Responsible Use of Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) Services (NISTIR 8323), the document,” NIST said in a press release Thursday, “is part of NIST’s response to the Feb. 12, 2020, Executive Order 13905, Strengthening National Resilience Through Responsible Use of Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Services.”

The GPS that facilitates popular mapping tools is only one way to use PNT services. The particular arrangement of powerful satellites and clocks that make up the technology also enables split-second financial transactions, microsurgeries and a host of other applications. But it is vulnerable to hackers who can jam or spoof the precise signals it relies on and is shared with other governments, some of which the U.S. considers adversarial.

The executive order instructed the secretary of the Commerce Department, where NIST is housed, to “develop and make available, to at least the appropriate agencies and private sector users, PNT profiles.”

“The PNT profiles,” it said, “will enable the public and private sectors to identify systems, networks, and assets dependent on PNT services; identify appropriate PNT services; detect the disruption and manipulation of PNT services; and manage the associated risks to the systems, networks, and assets dependent on PNT services.”

The profiles were to be ready one year after the order was issued. Sector-specific agencies would then use them to create, within 90 days, language to be included in contracts to improve the secure use of the technology by government vendors. But NIST read the directions differently.     

“The Executive Order (EO) directs the Department of Commerce to develop a PNT Profile that will address the four components of responsible use of PNT,” reads the final document NIST released Thursday. “[The profile] is intended to be a foundational set of guidelines. Sector-specific agencies (SSAs) and entities may wish to augment or further develop their own PNT cybersecurity efforts via full or partial implementation of the recommended practices in this document.” 

NIST’s interpretation of the order does fit with what an administration official told Nextgov at the time it was issued: The agency would “take the lead in developing a template for the profiles based on ‘a generic tailoring’ of the agency’s landmark 2014 cybersecurity framework.” 

A NIST spokesperson said the agency has not received any comments suggesting its actions don’t meet its obligations under the executive order and confirmed the agency does not intend to issue any additional profiles.

“NIST has created a ‘foundational Profile’ and it is the only one NIST will create, update and maintain over time,” the spokesperson said. “However, anyone is welcome to create a sector-specific profile using the NIST profile as a foundation.” 

When NIST issued a draft of the foundational guidelines last fall, some commenters flagged that the agency’s profile—based on its 2014 cybersecurity framework—didn’t match up with what the executive order called for. 

The comments came from officials at the Department of Transportation, including Karen Van Dyke, DOT’s director of position, navigation and timing. 

“Terminology consistent with EO 13905 is recommended,” Van Dyke wrote. “In EO 13905, ‘PNT profile means a description of the responsible use of PNT services—aligned to standards, guidelines, and sector-specific requirements—selected for a particular system to address the potential disruption or manipulation of PNT services.’ EO 13905 doesn't mention ‘cybersecurity’ a single time.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.