According to the statement released by Prof David Stupples to BBC, their plans of replacing the potentially aged rail signal lights with modern computers can also open up ways for cyber attacks and expose the complete rail network in Britain.
United Kingdom is currently testing the European Rail Traffic Management System and the results have still not been released out. But the Network Rail has acknowledged the possible risks of hacking through cyber attacks. Network Rail at present is in charge of the upgrading of the railway signals.
According to the official spokesperson Network Rail, Due to latest digital technology across the rail network, they know that there is a high threat in particular that of cyber attack increasing. They are at present working with the government, with suppliers and partners, different security services in the railway industry and also some of the external cyber-security experts to get a complete understanding of the potential threats to their system and also to develop right measures to get the right controls set out.
After the European Rail Traffic Management System has been enabled with the advanced computers and they will have the will have the responsibility of dictating the critical safety information which will include the speed of the trains and the time it takes to stop the train at any point.
It is expected this system will take the control over some of the busiest intercity routes in the UK by end of 2020s. Currently this system is being used in many parts of the world and no reports have been received pertaining to any kind of risks or threats. This system has been made to make the network a lot safer and it also reduces the risk of any mistake by the drivers.
On the other hand, Prof Stupples also indicated that if anybody is able to hack into the railway system then they can cause of serious accidents or a disruption It can completely change the way the system is performing, the system might be slowing down but the malware will make it look like its speeding up. Even government understand the kind of problem cyber attacks can create and that is the reason why they are working on safeguarding the interest of the people.
They are working on increasing the awareness among the people about the potential threat. The transport department of UK has already indicated that they will constantly review the security arrangement to check on any threats of issues.
According to the professor they might even be able to protect their system from outside attacks but they still can face danger from a rogue staff. But it doesn’t mean that training of employees are an attack unknowingly but it means a staff opening up ways for a potential malware to enter the system. It can be that they have been bribed or even forced to do the same.
Market experts are indicating that the system is quite vulnerable. Humans will be mostly affected by an attack. The team is working on additional security system which will indicate the train to act in different way at certain times.