Cybersecurity in the transportation industry

The transportation business in the United Kingdom transfers people and things throughout the country and internationally in a timely, safe, and secure manner. Aviation, autos and motor transport, sea transportation, and railways are all part of this industry. The risk of cyberattacks is increasing as this essential business grows increasingly reliant on interconnected digital technologies. Previously more concerned with protecting passengers and cargo from physical hazards, the aviation sector is now seeing an alarming rise in cyber assaults.

To enhance security ideas in transportation production, product distribution, communication and entertainment systems, and the dynamic vendor ecosystem, educational institutions and cybersecurity specialists must collaborate.

Cybersecurity issues in the transportation industry

The transportation industry witnessed a 186 percent increase in weekly ransomware attacks. The number of ransomware attacks is increasing across all sectors, but transportation entities are bearing the brunt of this trend. Because transportation companies have not historically deployed large security teams to protect their digital assets, they are more acutely affected by the global cybersecurity skills gap than other businesses.

Transportation industry cybersecurity concerns

Weekly ransomware assaults increased by 186 percent in the transportation business. The number of ransomware assaults is on the rise across all industries, but transportation appears to be the worst hit. Transportation firms are more adversely affected by the global cybersecurity skills gap than other organizations because they have not traditionally deployed significant security teams to defend their digital assets.

Shipping company A.P. Moller-Maersk was targeted in 2017, in what many now regard as the mother of all cyber attacks, and the reason ransomware virus Petya and its variant cousin NotPetya have become household names in the cybersecurity community. The assault was aimed at a Ukrainian company, but the virus soon spread to networks all around the world. It ultimately infected approximately 50,000 endpoints as well as thousands of apps and servers in 130 countries.

The assault hit Maersk’s entire business, including container shipping, port and tugboat operations, oil and gas production, drilling services, and oil tankers, according to the firm. The assault began as a phishing email that transmitted malware, but the consequences were felt by businesses across the world. It was the first of many such warnings about the risks of today’s linked IT infrastructure.

MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority): Reports appeared in June 2021 that North America’s largest transportation network, New York’s MTA, had been targeted by a cyberattack two months prior. Downstate New York is served by the MTA, as are two counties in southern Connecticut. On weekdays, the transit system handles about 11 million passengers, and over 850,000 automobiles pass through the MTA’s seven toll bridges.

Cybersecurity specialists believe the hack was carried out by Chinese threat actors. The adept attackers could maintain persistence on three of the MTA’s 18 computer systems for several days in what was most certainly a cyber-espionage effort. The MTA claims that no consumer information was obtained and that the intruders did not meddle with essential systems, implying that espionage was the motivation.

To gain access to the MTA’s network, the Chinese attackers allegedly used a zero-day vulnerability in a remote access product from Pulse Connect Secure. There is still some worry that the April MTA hack was only a warm-up for a major attack that might put transportation in the northeast to a halt.

Matson: In late 2020, a team of fraudsters used the Windows REvil ransomware to assault the global shipping corporation Matson. The crooks claimed to have taken a terabyte of information.

Transportation industry cybersecurity solutions

As previously said, the transportation industry may need to gain ground regarding cybersecurity. These businesses use a variety of precautions to defend themselves against cyber-attacks.

The following are some of the most important methods that firms may use to strengthen their cyber defenses:

Segmentation of the network: IT administrators may improve network performance and security by separating their network into smaller pieces. When a company’s infrastructure is logically split, sections of it can be isolated if suspicious behavior is discovered on another segment. Users of the automotive design network, for example, may be unable to access the section for the company’s financial system due to segmentation restrictions.

Anti-malware software for endpoints: Malware is software that is meant to do harm, steal data, encrypt files, or gain unauthorized access to digital systems. It is the most common cyber danger that businesses face. The phrase refers to a variety of harmful software, including trojans, worms, and ransomware.

Anti-malware software detects and disables malware using signature detection, behavioral heuristics analysis, and, in certain cases, artificial intelligence. Anti-malware software should be deployed on every digital endpoint of a network. It might be difficult to ensure that current anti-malware is correctly deployed across all devices with network connectivity in today’s age of BYOD (bring your own device) workplaces.

Patching and software updates on a frequent basis: When vulnerabilities in computer systems and software are discovered, suppliers issue patches and updates regularly to safeguard their consumers. Hackers frequently succeed in exploiting vulnerabilities for which fixes are widely accessible, but consumers fail to install them. Many harmful attacks may be mitigated by upgrading and patching systems regularly.

Backup data: The ability to deny companies access to their important data is the foundation of basic ransomware. The most effective mitigation approach for thwarting ransomware thieves is to have a recent backup. To prevent attackers from encrypting or exfiltrating the original and backup copies, backed-up data should be separated from the network housing the original files.

Cybersecurity training: Providing cybersecurity training to staff Is possibly the most effective strategy that transportation companies can do to defend themselves from cyber threats. The vast majority of assaults start with some form of social engineering, most commonly through an email. Phishing emails can be difficult to discern from legal communications in today’s world. Employees who are trained to be on the lookout for the telltale symptoms of a phishing email can provide a realistic first line of protection.

Cybersecurity for the Transportation Industry

The transportation sector faces numerous and complicated risks. Despite the growing threat of cyber-attacks, many OT operators have yet to implement effective security measures to secure their systems. Many companies haven’t implemented Secure Shell or Transport Layer Security traffic encryption for their communications. Furthermore, many businesses do not use role-based access management for workers, which increases their risk by granting high-level system access to vendors and partners.

Zero Trust

A zero-trust or earned-trust access mechanism must be implemented. Begin by assessing your OT network and determining the possible harm that may result if it were to be breached. To minimize the scope of any possible OT system compromise, map out functional zones and establish segmentation and access controls.

Analyzing User and Entity Behavior

User and Entity Behavior Analytics solutions should be established to identify and respond quickly to any anomalous behavior that jeopardizes the ongoing and safe functioning of OT systems.


Cybersecurity education, such as cybersecurity awareness programs, cyber literacy programs, and cyber hygiene training, should be a top priority for all businesses. “Cybersecurity and privacy, long matters mainly for technology professionals, have become general concerns in business and society,” according to the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity at the University of New Brunswick. Cybersecurity is no longer only a technical issue. It’s not just a corporate issue; it’s a problem that affects everyone. People, not gadgets, are now the weakest link in cybersecurity. As a result, the human aspect is regarded as the most dangerous to cyber security.

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