Reducing the vulnerabilities of spatial data

Representatives from the corporate and governmental sectors attended a seminar organized by the INSURE project on spatial data and cybersecurity in Pasila, Cybersecurity in Localization on Thursday 25 January.

– The seminar is a wake-up call to use the most recent research results to prepare for the vulnerabilities of localization and spatial data, says Professor Heidi Kuusniemi, leader of the INSURE (Information Security of Location Estimation and Navigation Applications) project.

Methods to combat jamming and spoofing attempts

The INSURE project was initiated to develop the information security of positioning and navigation applications. Information security has been left on the back burner as the technology has developed. The project aims to create methods of preventing jamming and spoofing attempts directed at satellite positioning receivers. The partner corporations and agencies of the project will be offered the first opportunities of utilizing the accomplishments of the project.

Spatial data is an essential part of many things that are crucial for society to function. The power transmission network, air traffic and emergency services all need positioning technology to work.

Spatial data can reveal things you would prefer to keep hidden

The INSURE project promotes, for example, the information security of the smart appliances of private individuals. In recent years, spatial data has been used with increasing frequency in individualized marketing, but this has to be accurate and secure.

– Spatial data is collected and shared by smart appliances and applications, which can endanger people's privacy. Consumers may be unaware of the data collected about them and the uses of the data. In some cases, allowing a service to collect data may be a condition of use, says Professor of Communications Law Päivi Korpisaari at the University of Helsinki.

Korpisaari, who leads the judicial sub-project of INSURE, spoke at the seminar about spatial data and protecting personal information. In the future, we need more ways to collect spatial data while respecting the privacy of individuals.

– Spatial data becomes personal data when it can be matched to a particular person. Handling spatial data that is also personal data requires the consent of the person it applies to or other legal grounds, according to Korpisaari.

According to the EU General Data Protection Regulation that becomes applicable on 25 May 2018, consent must be given explicitly and it cannot be given through silence or with an already ticked box in an application.

From project to legislation

On the basis of the project's results, recommendations can be given concerning legislation to guarantee privacy, when the matter concerns the use of data based on spatial data.

The INSURE project is a joint project of the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute, University of Helsinki and Tampere University of Technology. The project is financed by the Academy of Finland.

More information

Director of the Department of Navigation and Positioning, Professor Heidi Kuusniemi, +358 40 6532228, firstname.lastname@nls.fi