TS Catapult says UK’s transport industry must prepare for increased cyber-security threat


According to the Transport Systems Catapult (TSC), the UK transport sector needs to increase its focus on cyber-security in the face of rapidly emerging technological developments.

In a new report, Cyber security and intelligent mobility, supported by IBM, The Institute of Engineering Technology (IET), the Intelligent Mobility Partnership (IMPART), and the Digital Catapult, the TSC cites numerous trends in the realms of technology, cyber security, mobility and society that are converging to make it a much more complex environment in which to deliver safe, secure and reliable mobility services and infrastructure. In particular the TSC is highlighting the emergence of a global ‘intelligent mobility’ market, featuring connected and automated vehicles (CAVs), the Internet of Things (IoT), and the increasing use of personal data to create services tailored to the individual. This will rapidly add another layer of complexity into an already vulnerable transport network, as well as open new cyber threats.

One example highlighted is the rush to automation for cars, trains and buses. The TSC warns that current detection and action times on cyber incidents is measured in days, weeks and even months. However, autonomous vehicle systems will require detection, identification and resolution within seconds to prevent serious safety consequences. While the threats will increase, the TSC is also keen to point out that the UK is well placed to take a lead in resolution and prevention.

“The cyber security issues faced by transport in the future will not simply be an acceleration of the current constant, with more cyber attacks,” noted Andrew Everett, chief strategy officer at the TSC. “The way we move people and goods around the globe is undergoing a radical change. It is being driven by technological advances, such as wireless communications, smart devices, open data, the Internet of Things, and more recently artificial intelligence. The surface area of potential attacks is set to increase significantly and the transport industry needs to get to grips with this immediately. The UK is a world leader in cyber security. These skills can be transferred into the realm of transport, and supportive government policies provide an excellent basis with which to proceed. Already there has been research in the automotive, aviation and marine sectors. However, greater focus and a shared vision among transport industry business, academia and technology companies is needed if we are to provide an effective response to emerging threats.”

Anna Bonne, head of the transport sector at the IET, commented, “Intelligent mobility has huge potential to transform the way we travel. The UK is leading the world in this area, especially through its trials of autonomous vehicles. Operation of an autonomous vehicle will be heavily dependent on a lot of software embedded in the vehicle and the ability to communicate to other vehicles and the road infrastructure, so it is crucial that all aspects of cyber security are considered carefully. This report aims to raise awareness of the cyber security challenge in intelligent mobility and ensure that cyber security is considered at the design phase and not as an afterthought.”

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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).