Cyber vulnerabilities go beyond roadside infrastructure

| Transport

Electronic transport infrastructure vulnerabilities are just one aspect of the problems facing future transport systems, according to security experts.

A recent report from cyber-security company, Kaspersky Lab, has shown that research it conducted in Moscow brought to light the vulnerability of electronic roadside infrastructure to cyber attacks.

With greater dependence being a certainty as driverless and semi-autonomous vehicles take to the roads within the next two decades, the security of the information and communications technology that holds it all together becomes much more important.

The report from Kaspersky Lab focuses on vehicle classification, traffic monitoring and congestion control for maintaining situational awareness of traffic patterns and for planning future transport environments. However, the implications go much deeper than that and affect the operation of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) and the Vehicle-To-Infrastructure (V2x) dedicated short range communications that are essential for operating autonomous transport effectively and safely.

In a broader context, the Internet of Things (IoT) encompasses all of these sensor and control systems and their intercommunication. However, the security of the IoT is anything but stable or well-established at present and their is still much work to be done in this respect.

An approach to securing infrastructure requires an alternative train of thought, according to Belden’s VP of Industrial Cyber Security, Rekha Shenoy, who told us: “When we think of the impact of cyber breaches related to smart city infrastructure, we need to think differently.  Enterprise security tends to think in terms of data exfiltration but hackers targeting smart city infrastructure are more likely to try to cause outages, damage and loss of life.”

Connected cars

The IoT also contains connected cars, which are also subject to vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cyber attackers, according to AlienVault’s Richard Kirk. “There are many plausible uses for having full remote control over vehicles, and science fiction is rapidly becoming reality. Some of the applications include fleet management and control, location of stolen vehicles, pre-programming journey routes as well as emergency assistance in the case of accident,” he told us.

These vulnerabilities are something which has to be taken more seriously than they currently are, according to Kirk, who told us, “Connected cars are like an iPhone on wheels, and consequently susceptible to all of the same issues we face on a daily basis with computers. Cars are big hunks of metal and when not in control, can do a lot of damage since the systems, perhaps running in the cloud, controlling and coordinating the vehicles are all prone to intrusion and failure.”

Jonathan Newell
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