Four major cyberattacks have been reported on UK railway computer networks over the past year, according to new statistics revealed by UK-based security firm Darktrace, which is employed to guard much of the UK’s rail network from attack. While detail about the full extent of the hacks remains unknown, experts indicate that such breaches are typically “exploratory” rather than disruptive.
So what could hackers do? Turns out they could do a lot. Access to UK rail technology systems could give hackers control over everything from online information boards to the computer systems that manage signals, internal messages and even the trains themselves. In other words…a real disaster.
In response to this acknowledgement, Network Rail, the main authority responsible for the UK’s railway network, stressed that Britain has “the safest major railway in Europe.”
With more critical infrastructure – from nuclear power stations to electrical grids – increasingly moving online, the threat from hackers and nation-state infiltrators has never been greater.
In one major example from December last year, security experts believe that Russian hackers were responsible for a widespread power grid outage in Ukraine. In the most recent case, US cybersecurity experts named the nation as the culprit in the hack at the Democratic National Committee (DNC).