Radio interference – an increasing threat


  • Peter Stenumgaard

Publish date: 2012-11-14

Report number: FOI-R--3494--SE

Pages: 30

Written in: Swedish


  • Radio interference
  • jamming
  • wireless


This report presents interim results of the survey that FOI perform on behalf of the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration in the field of intersystem interference and radio interference. For some activities, wireless technology is a necessity. Military operations are severely dependent on wireless technology for missions.In the civil context, functioning wireless technology is often a crucial key factor for instance in operations where rescue personnel and police are involved. Lack of communication in such cases may have very serious consequences. A recent example of this is the events at the Norwegian Utøya 2011 where radio communications problems was one contributing factor to delay in the police operation. The reason was that arriving units used the new national radio system that does not have adequate coverage at Utøya The exponentially increasing use of interference-sensitive wireless technology in society means increased risk of radio interference. Radio interference is generated naturally in all electronic equipment. Also deliberate jamming increases due to that jamming equipment are sold openly, for example via the Internet. The situation has opened for attackers who use jamming to knock out vital communication, positioning and alarm systems associated with criminal activities and other actions. The ability to efficiently exploit this vulnerability has previously only been with military actors, but is now spreading even among civilian actors. Moreover, the number of disturbance-sensitive wireless systems used in more critical applications is constantly increasing. Even the amount of unintentional interference signals have led to a series of incidents on critical systems using wireless technology. This unintended interference facilitates the intentional jamming device to achieve its purpose more easily. The consequence of this development is vital systems such as communications, positioning and alarm systems for various social functions and even private use can be effectively eliminated by an attacker in the future. Awareness of the interference susceptibility of wireless technology is now relatively low, which in some cases leads to increased vulnerability caused by clueless use of disturbing interferencesensitive technologies in critical applications. This awareness needs to be increased, for example at the authorities and end users so that these aspects are given greater consideration in the procurement of new systems for critical applications.