Cyber criminals could hack the UK’s digital train system


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Britain’s new digital train signalling system could be attacked by cyber criminals, an expert has warned.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling last week unveiled plans to install digital signalling on the line between Manchester and York to try to increase capacity and reliability.

However, a cyber security expert has warned criminals could potentially gain access to the system and interfere with signalling and train tracking.

This could cause mayhem on the UK’s rail network, and increases the risk of high-speed collisions.

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A cyber security expert has warned criminals could potentially gain access to the system and interfere with signalling and train tracking (stock image) 

WHAT COULD HAPPEN?

Dr Alexeis Garcia-Perez warned if cyber criminals tried to gain unauthorised access to location, train tracking, signalling or other rail infrastructure data from the digitally-controlled trains it could compromise the safety of passengers, staff and the community.

He said the cyber security challenges ahead must be fully considered. 

He said a cross-industry approach to the secure capture, communication, storage and processing of railway data is important.

Digital train signalling enables trains to run closer together and is already used on the London Underground.

But Dr Alexeis Garcia-Perez, a reader in Cyber Security Management at the University of Coventry, said the cyber security challenges ahead must be fully considered.

He said if cyber criminals tried to gain unauthorised access to location, train tracking, signalling or other rail infrastructure data from the digitally-controlled trains, it could compromise the safety of passengers, staff and the community. 

‘A coherent, cross-industry strategy and a robust and realistic delivery plan are essential so that challenges associated to the use of data for the management of signalling and traffic are fully considered for the safety of railway passengers, staff and communities in general.

‘Such challenges are related not only to the required railway infrastructure but to large-scale data collection and management and the resulting cyber-security risks’, said Dr Garcia-Perez. 

Mr Grayling has allocated £5 million ($6.75 million) of funding to Network Rail to…

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