Securing the Future Railway System: Technology Forecast, Security Measures, and Research Demands

AuthorUnger, Simon; Heinrichs, Markus; Scheuermann, Dirk; Katzenbeisser, Stefan; Schubert, Max; Hagemann, Leon; Iffländer, Lukas
TypeJournal Article
AbstractThe railway industry - traditionally a conservative industry with low adaption speed for innovation - is currently entering its digitization phase. The sector faces a challenge in integrating new technologies and approaches into the employed - often safety-critical - systems. Keeping the systems secure while conforming to the demanding safety norms creates previously unknown problems. In the last decades, the number of attacks on the railway system has increased. Furthermore, with standardized digital technologies, the attack surface will keep growing. Therefore, in this work, we look into the foreseeable future of the railway system and present 21 likely use cases. We analyze these use cases regarding possible threats, rate the severity of these threats, and deduce and rate necessary countermeasures. To this end, we model these use cases and the corresponding threats and countermeasures using Attack Graphs. We use a graphical solution for the risk and security analysis due to advantages over other methods, i.e., table-based solutions, like simplified presentation and an easier understanding of relationships, dependencies, and interactions between various elements. From these Attack Graphs, we extracted 14 commonly recurring attack strategies. After analyzing 49 countermeasures regarding their current maturity and further research and standardization demands, we identified 21 in need of further investigation. This implies that 21 necessary countermeasures to secure these future use cases require further research to apply to railway systems or require standardization. These results will help researchers focus on the necessary research and standardization and railway operators to ensure the security of their systems.