Cyber attacks present a real threat to highway and transport operations, unless very strict security measures are in place, hears this week’s Highways Voices.

This was according to transport consultant, Scott Belcher, who spoke to Highways News about the importance of cyber security to the sector.

Mr Belcher has completed a study, Transit Industry Cyber Preparedness study describes how a huge flaw in security at the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit system meant that ‘intentionally planted spyware’ had been planted by ‘foreign nation hostile to American interests’ into hardware switches on its network which could have had ‘swift and severe’ consequences.

In his research, Belcher – a former President of ITS America – discovered that two-fifths of transit agencies had no cyber security policy at all, and only just over a third had revised theirs within a year. Less than 40% of agencies even have standard clauses in their vendor contracts related to cybersecurity.

Other worrying examples of cyber failings include hackers attacking the transit system in California’s Capital in a ransomware attack, and attacking a lorry and school bus taking control of the vehicles’ operations.

He said: “The ability to impact transport operations is one of the many things that could be put at risk. Having the means totrack and trace the transport operations of a city or region and impact those means there’s a lot of things that could go wrong, and horribly wrong.

Adding to that, he said: “Because we now all work from home. We all now work from coffee shops, we all know work from anywhere we can. Quite often we’ve done that without really understanding or appreciating the cybersecurity ramifications of that. And because the pandemic happened so quickly. And because we are so cybersecurity unsophisticated, we have not done the proper training and put in the proper protocols to protect our networks. And that’s really kind of the big takeaways from all of this is it cyber security protections are not necessarily there’s an OT a hardware component, protecting your network, making sure you have the malware the security protocols in place, but there is a human element and responsibility as well.”

Also find out why the City of Leicester wins this week’s “Adrian’s Accolade”.

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