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Many highly digitized industries and companies, having experienced these consequences firsthand, are incorporating cybersecurity into their cultures, while building advanced cyber defenses and resiliency programs. Rail and other industries with legacy infrastructure assets built long before the Internet age, however, appear to be lagging in terms of cyber resiliency, even as they increasingly rely on expanded digital systems and connectivity.
Globally, rail offers a relatively soft and highly tempting target for those looking to wreak havoc, as rail is often closely tied to a country’s economic infrastructure and mobility. In the US and elsewhere, rail freight is used to move dangerous industrial goods, while passenger rail is a common mode of travel in many countries – including into densely populated urban cores.
The rail sector has witnessed its share of cyber events. While not crippling, they hint at the potential for damage. In 2008, a 14-year-old Polish boy modified a TV remote to change junction-box controls and derailed four trams in the city of Lodz, causing injuries to passengers. The UK rail network was attacked four times in 2015-2016 by hackers exploring its vulnerabilities, while Canada’s Metrolinx thwarted a 2017 cyberattack originating in North Korea. Ransomware and DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks have shut down systems ranging from scheduling and information to internal communications and ticket selling at the San Francisco Muni, Deutsche Bahn in Germany, and Danish train operator DSB.
This article first appeared on www.railwayage.com
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