Cyber security: Keeping track of threats to protect the rail network

Based on the contributed article by Ammar Hindi, Managing Director at Sourcefire Asia Pacific (now part of Cisco Systems)

In a nutshell, the article highlights greater anticipation towards the trend of security breaches onto public facilities such as the transportation system.

Each day, hundred thousands of passengers travel along Malaysia’s railways with the multiple public transport operators responsible for the tracks, signals, overhead wires, tunnels, bridges, level crossings and most stations. Technology is used across its network for everything from delivering power, signalling operations, and freight data, to maintenance, ticketing and passenger information.

Advances in IT technology on the railways for communication and control, but increasingly integrated and interconnected security operations, meant gaps had opened up on the network with the potential for hackers to cause “serious physical disruption and violation.

Therefore, as the facilities become more dependent on integrated IT technology, the risks become greater.

Cisco recommends that public transport organisations need comprehensive, continuous, visibility of their complex, dynamic, IT environments to understand how they use technology and what needs to be protected – only then can they tighten up the weaknesses in their defences and minimise the risk of compromise. Inevitably though, some attacks will get through, so organisations should look to solutions that enable them to quickly detect, understand and control an attack, ultimately minimising or avoiding any serious damage.