Some pretty startling news concerning the UK’s railways has emerged this morning, with cybersecurity firm Darktrace revealing that hackers managed to infiltrate the network's systems four times over the last 12 months.
The breaches could have handed the baddies control of the computer systems that manage trains and signals, which could have had deadly consequences. Also at risk of manipulation were online information boards and in-train entertainment systems, essentially meaning that in a worst case scenario, unfortunate train passengers could not only have burned to smithereens in a horror crash, but also spent the last moments of their lives a bit confused and frustrated.
"In an era of imperfect defences and increasingly complex networks, determined threats can always get in,” said Dave Palmer, the chief technology officer of Darktrace. "Today, all businesses can be affected, regardless of size or sector."
It’s believed that the hacks were exploratory rather than disruptive, but that’s not exactly reassuring. Most of the UK’s rail network still uses analogue technology, but we can expect an increasing number of attacks as more of it goes digital.
"Britain has the safest major railway in Europe,” was the response from a Network Rail spokesman. “Safety is our top priority, which is why we work closely with government, the security services, our partners and suppliers in the rail industry and security specialists to combat cyber threats.” [Alphr, Telegraph]