Challenges and Solutions in Transportation Network Security

May 20

As smart technology evolves, logistics firms will need to stay up-to-date on the latest transportation network security. Companies involved in any type of IoT infrastructure need to always stay several steps ahead of cybercriminals. Here’s a look at challenges in the near future for making Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) more secure.

Read on: Why You Need to Strengthen Your IIoT Security

Threats Facing Today’s ITS

A modern ITS prioritizes cybersecurity as crucial, but there’s still no such thing as an absolute bulletproof defense against cyberattacks. Current transportation network security methods are robust, yet breaches have still occurred the past decade. A few Dallas incidents in 2016 made the news when hackers were able to change messages on road signs. Later that year, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MUNI) suffered a ransomware attack as payment machines displayed the message “Out of Service.”

A TrendLabs research paper published by the Micro Forward-Looking Threat Research Team found that network cyberattacks were the biggest threat to an ITS. Other big risks include wireless attacks and hardware attacks. Some of the suspects engaging in these illegal activities include nation states, organized criminals, hackers, terrorists and even disgruntled employees to get back at employers.

Today’s ITS needs a security-minded ecosystem that encompasses alerts, threat containment, and problem-solving. Officials must not become complacent about how strong their cybersecurity system is, as it must constantly be assessed for improvements.

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Cybersecurity Solutions for ITS Operators

A major key to establishing the strongest cybersecurity possible requires investing in tools for quickly identifying and responding to cyber threats as they develop. Officials must be able to contain a breach and prevent further data loss or damage once it’s discovered.

Other characteristics of solid cybersecurity systems for an ITS include taking proactive measures that reduce system vulnerabilities and learning from real-world breaches. Here are the most commonly used cybersecurity solutions, which collectively create a strong defense against network intruders:

Segmentation – Dividing up your network into segments is one way to limit the damage of a penetration. Each segment requires different credentials to log in. This concept is fairly seamless when using a virtual private network (VPN) based on virtual servers. This method allows stacking different operating systems on the same physical machine.

Encryption – Scrambling passwords using long character strings is the essence of encrypted solutions. Even the fastest hacking software often fails to crack encrypted passwords. Encryption software can be used to protect files, emails, and packets sent across your network.

Firewalls – Both hardware and software firewalls alone are effective tools for configuring which devices can and cannot access your network. Firewalls work as gatekeepers for incoming and outgoing internet traffic. More advanced versions help identify bad domains and suspicious activity on your network.

Breach Detection Systems (BDS) – Monitoring your network on a continuous 24/7 basis with a BDS software solution will help identify bad actors on your network as they appear. These systems simply detect unusual activities by analyzing traffic patterns.

Read more: All You Need to Know About Ransomware and Ways to Prevent It

Advanced ITS Security

Next-generation ITS cybersecurity, which already exists, emphasizes gateways for Unified Threat Management (UTM). This concept unifies various security layers into one platform, allowing for machine learning to draw from multiple sources for evaluating data on cyber threats. UTM encompasses Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), as well as anti-virus and anti-malware software. While an IDS is a passive reporting system, IPS automatically blocks packets identified as suspicious.


The issue of transportation network security will grow in importance as we enter the age of smart technology. Even though interactivity is the key to a smarter future, it also opens doors for hackers. Since Intelligent Transportation Systems are helping pioneer Industry 4.0, it’s important these early adopters set effective cybersecurity standards for other industries to follow.

Johannes Beekman

About the author

After 25 years in engineering, Johannes Beekman founded IoT Marketing with the goal of helping companies bring wide-scale awareness to their inventions. He received a Master of Science in Physics degree from the Eindhoven University of Technology, and a Master in Business Administration degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and started his career in the semiconductor field. Johannes pioneered two successful wafer fab startups for Philips Electronics; one in Europe and the second one in Asia. And served as Senior Program Manager for Sematech, where he provided solutions for semiconductor industry-wide product improvement and cost reduction challenges. Johannes has also published articles on several trade-focused websites.


transportation security

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