Rail e-Security Solutions



Cyber-security in rail


In the rail sector, we have seen cybersecurity developed into standards – e.g. the Indian Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) – which is a significant step in the right direction, but how do we keep our assets secure? Cybersecurity is a continuous process that must be reviewed over the lifecycle of the asset. Unlike safety assurance, where, if we don’t fundamentally change our asset, the safety case holds, cybersecurity is a changing dynamic. We must, therefore, be prepared to continuously review design and implementation decisions on a regular basis to ensure that our assets remain secure. As we continue to have highly digitalized fleets and infrastructure assets, this is a challenge that will only continue to rise.

Before we delve into the solutions and what we must consider, it’s important to review the lifecycle of an asset, from design to implementation, deployment, and then retirement. When we design and develop our systems and assets, we are typically constrained by the hardware available at the time, which means that we must make decisions to provide optimal security whilst not impacting performance. As time passes, though, these barriers are eliminated, where we should look to implement these improvements to benefit from maximal security. As an example, in 1997, when the IRTMS standards were being developed, the cryptography used had to be carefully selected due to hardware limitations. These hardware constraints, however, are long gone, where most computer processors now benefit from hardware implementations of AES, something which was not possible over 20 years ago. When these barriers no longer exist, we should look at implementing the best practices and solutions available at the point of design and as opportunities for improvement.

The new research project aims to improve rail navigation technology

The project aims to tackle one of the rail sector’s biggest challenges: How to pinpoint the accurate location of a moving train.


A new research project aimed at improving railway navigation technology in an effort to reduce train delays and increase passenger experience has been launched at the University of Birmingham.

The project aims to tackle one of the rail sector’s biggest challenges: How to pinpoint the accurate location of a moving train. Overcoming this challenge is key to ensuring fewer train delays and increased passenger safety.

The digital transformation of our railways – whether that is infrastructure assets, signaling, or rolling stock – is continuing at a significant pace. Through the digitalization of components, cyber-security now becomes a key consideration, as any attack that targets rail could have severe safety implications. Unlike our traditional Information Technology (IT) systems, railway assets fall under the category of ‘Operational Technology’ (OT) systems, where the requirements we place on these systems are very different.