Cyber attacks ‘could crash trains’


Published: Friday 24th April 2015 by The News Editor

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A new railway signalling system being trialled in the UK could be vulnerable to a cyber attack which could cause a train crash, a government adviser has warned.

Professor David Stupples told the BBC the European Rail Traffic Management System, a new digital system aimed to make lines safer, could be exposed to malicious software, or malware, used to cause a “nasty accident”.

The internet security expert at City University said government ministers feared the possible threat of hacking and the biggest could come from an insider.

He told the broadcaster: “It’s the clever malware that actually alters the way the train will respond. So, it will perhaps tell the system the train is slowing down, when it’s speeding up.”

“Governments aren’t complacent. Certain ministers know this is absolutely possible and they are worried about it. Safeguards are going in, in secret, but it’s always possible to get around them.

“The weakness is getting malware into the system by employees. Either because they are dissatisfied or being bribed or coerced.”

Network Rail, in charge of the upgrade which is expected be operational by the 2020s, said it acknowledged the threat.

“We know that the risk (of a cyber attack) will increase as we continue to roll out digital technology across the network,” a spokesman told the BBC.

“We work closely with government, the security services, our partners and suppliers in the rail industry and external cyber-security specialists to understand the threat to our systems and make sure we have the right controls in place.”

Published: Friday 24th April 2015 by The News Editor

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