Mind the Cyber Gap

Today there is much greater threat to the modern railway: cyber crime


The age of the Internet of Things and the Industrialization of hacking is transforming all businesses and the way they need to think and behave in a connected world. Further evidence of this was demonstrated again just the other week when professional services firm KPMG warned rail firms they need to be better prepared for the cybercrime threat to the UK national railway infrastructure.

In the bygone, romantic age of steam mechanical failure, a stray farm animal on the line or severe weather would have been enough to bring a train to a halt, but today there is much greater threat to the modern railway – cyber-crime.

Hackers are no longer just attacking businesses for kicks, most are sophisticated criminals targeting the country’s critical infrastructure with transportation networks, utilities and financial institutions among those industries firmly in their sights.

Each day 24,500 trains travel along Britain’s railways, the vast majority of which are carrying passengers. Technology is used across its network for everything from delivering power, signaling operations, and freight data to maintenance, ticketing and passenger information. In addition thousands of staff are also involved in the railway network using smartphones and other mobile devices as part of their work. All of this is a potential target for cybercriminals looking to target the railways.

Advances in IT technology on the railways for communication and control are helping to facilitate increasingly integrated and interconnected security operations, but also have meant gaps have opened up on the network with the potential for hackers to find the weak links and compromise the network.

Research continues to highlight the growth in malicious attacks, while at the same time we know there is no ‘silver bullet’ to prevention with the likelihood of being hacked more prevalent now than ever. It is now, not as case of if you will be attacked, but when.

Attackers do not discriminate and will exploit any gaps in defenses to achieve their objective and therefore it is important organizations put in place controls and policies to minimize the risks of their systems being compromised. This recently released diagram summarizes the numerous vectors attackers may use to compromise organizations.

Any attack has the potential to have a seriously detrimental impact in terms of the impact on productivity, competiveness, finance and reputation, and companies should always prepare for the worst case scenario to afford themselves the best possible protection. Whatever the method and motive of the cyber-criminal to gain access, it is in the interests of every organization to be vigilant and put in place strategies before, during and after any attack. Organizations need to understand how their companies use technology and what needs to be protected, enforce policies and control access. When a threat is detected an organization should immediately look to block the attack, anticipate and tighten up any weaknesses in defense to minimize the damage. Invariably, some attacks will get through, after which remediation should be undertaken to increase protection and bring operations back to normal.

Gain more insights into threat intelligence, cybersecurity trends, and how you can operationalize security.

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