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Finance glossary

What is a jamming attack?

Bristol James
4 Min

A jamming attack is a type of hack that interferes with wireless communication systems, like Wi-Fi, cell phone networks, Bluetooth, and GPS. The goal of a jamming attack is to eliminate communication between devices, which disrupts services.

Jamming attacks can happen to individuals and businesses. Government agencies and large companies are frequently at risk of jamming attacks. However, smaller-scale jamming attacks can also occur, like a neighbor cutting off the sound to your Bluetooth speaker.

How do jamming attacks work?

Jamming attacks commonly use a device to overload a network and disrupt operations. Here’s the general process that jamming attacks follow:

  1. Identify target – First, the hacker will identify their target, which might be as simple as a loud neighbor or as complex as a government agency.
  2. Choose jamming method – There are a few different jamming methods that hackers use, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.
  3. Source jamming device – Next, the hacker will find a jamming device to overload the system and generate high levels of transmission power. This device will transmit signals in the same manner as the network would usually use but on a larger scale.
  4. Place device – The hacker needs to be in close range of the network to facilitate a jamming attack.
  5. Launch attack – Finally, the hacker activates the jamming device and disrupts operations.

It’s important to note that jamming attacks are often the first step in a complex operation. After the hacker disrupts the business, they may look for ransom or carry out other fraudulent activities.

Types of jamming attacks

Hackers can use a variety of jamming methods to complete an attack, including:

Constant jamming

This jamming attack method commonly uses a Wi-Fi network that has predictable frequency bands. The jamming device interferes with these frequency bands, disputing the communication between devices. For example, a hacker might use your Wi-Fi to access a baby monitor.

Deceptive jamming

This type of jamming attack uses false signals disguised as legitimate transmissions on a network. Deceptive jamming is commonly facilitated through GPS devices and is also referred to as radio jamming. For example, a ship captain might use this jamming method to go undetected on the radar. Deceptive jamming can lead to other fraudulent activities, like bypassing encryption or accessing restricted networks.

Reactive jamming

Reactive jamming doesn’t send out a steady signal like deceptive or constant jamming. Instead, a hacker will try to disrupt a legitimate signal. This type of jamming is common when the system does not produce uniform frequencies.

Examples of jamming attacks

There are a few different jamming attacks that you might encounter. For one, GPS jamming is becoming more popular in vehicle theft. Most vehicles have a built-in GPS which allows you to track the location of your vehicle. Hackers will now use a device to jam the signal between your vehicle’s GPS and the network, essentially pulling your vehicle data off the map. GPS jamming is also used to bypass tolls without being caught on the camera.

Moreover, Wi-Fi jamming is becoming more prevalent as many devices rely on Wi-Fi networks. Laptops, smartphones, cameras, and TVs are all susceptible to Wi-Fi jamming. Even appliances and baby monitors have become targets of wireless jamming attacks.

Consequences of jamming attacks

Jamming attack victims can face different types of consequences, from financial and emotional to physical limitations. Let’s explore the consequences in more detail:

Communication disruption

One of the main goals of a jamming attack is to disrupt communication. As a result, you will not be able to access the network or device when you are in the midst of a jamming attack. For example, if your vehicle is stolen and the thief uses a jamming device, it could take weeks before your vehicle comes back online, causing significant delays in the recovery process.

Inaccurate information

Certain types of jamming attacks, like GPS jamming and radio jamming, look to alter information being transmitted in a secure setting. Recently, GPS jamming has been a tactic used in global conflict, resulting in inaccurate unit positions and corrupted data.

Inaccurate information can also be seen on a smaller scale, like a hacker replacing your camera with a static image instead of the live video feed. It might appear like everything is normal, but your house might actually be getting robbed.

Financial losses

Jamming attacks generally aim to do more harm than just disrupt communication between devices. In fact, many hackers use jamming to gain access to restricted networks and personal information. For example, if a hacker intercepts your device and you enter your banking information, they can now easily access your accounts.

How to protect against jamming attacks

There are ways you can protect yourself from jamming attacks. Here are some top protection tips:

  • Monitor network signals—Monitoring the strength of your network signals can be beneficial when safeguarding against jamming attacks. If you notice an unusual frequency level or inconsistent noise ratios, you may be under attack.
  • Use an intrusion detection system (IDS) – An IDS can monitor network traffic for jamming attacks. In some cases, an IDS takes a proactive approach to block jamming attacks by shutting down unusual frequencies.
  • Understand your risks – It’s also important to understand the types of jamming attacks you are at risk for. Do you have security cameras that can easily be hacked? How about consistently using public Wi-Fi networks? Minimizing your risks relies on understanding where your weak links are.

Remember, no one can fully eliminate the risk of a jamming attack. If you’ve been the victim of a jamming attack, it’s important that you alert the proper agencies.

Summary

  • A jamming attack occurs when an unauthorized party disrupts communication between devices.
  • There are three types of jamming attacks: constant, deceptive, and reactive.
  • Jamming attacks can lead to financial, emotional, and physical consequences.
  • Consistently monitoring your network signal, using an IDS, and understanding your risks are ways to protect against jamming.

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