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Cybersecurity for rail

What’s the best way to safeguard your railway network?

  • Thales is a leader in both rail and cybersecurity
  • Our solutions are Cybersecured by Design
  • Safely leverage new digital technologies

Our customers are ambitious when it comes to choosing digital technology. Whether it’s artificial intelligence or the Internet of Things (IoT), rail operators are turning to technology to boost capacity, reduce infrastructure costs and improve the passenger experience. And a growing number are looking ahead to the revolutionary potential of autonomous trains.

Digitalisation is making railways faster, safer and more comfortable. But it also exposes rail operators to cybersecurity risks. The challenge is amplified by the scale and complexity of our customers’ rail operations. Networks contain thousands of field elements. Each one is a potential weak spot. 

At Thales, we are helping our customers to safeguard their operations by ensuring that critical systems are Cybersecured by Design. 

“It starts by enforcing efficient protection and applying cybersecurity design principles, such as defence in depth,” explains Benoit Bruyère, Cybersecurity Authority at Thales. “Then we introduce detection. We use controlled zones to identify and isolate threats before they spread. Our expertise in both railways and cybersecurity puts us in a unique position to do this.” 

It’s essential that systems are easy to patch and protect, so Thales segregates safety and non-safety functions. Patching is crucial, because systems may remain operational for 20 years or more.

We’re also taking advantage of new capabilities, such as artificial intelligence and analytics, through our acquisitions – including Guavus, a pioneer in real-time big data processing.

Compliance with industrial cybersecurity standards is at the core of our strategy. This includes compliance with IEC 62443, the industrial cybersecurity standard.

As well as delivering solutions, we’re developing cybersecurity services across three categories: maintenance, audit and supervision.

“Maintenance services are about vulnerability and patch management,” says Bruyère. “Auditing and assessment help our customers as they prepare to build a whole-system security strategy. And we already offer cybersecurity monitoring to protect our customers’ critical systems 24/7.”

These capabilities matter because the threats facing our customers are real. Hackers can disrupt rail services and steal customer data, with serious economic and reputational consequences. Even passenger safety is at risk. 

“The stakes are high,” says Bruyère. “But with advanced cybersecurity, operators are able to detect threats and react rapidly. They can also prevent attacks from happening in the first place.” 

As well as reducing risks, better cybersecurity improves efficiency. It enhances the visibility of assets, enables operators to use shared networks and allows our customers to move towards the digital railway with confidence.

In addition to all of this, having the right cybersecurity in place gives customers the freedom to outsource security operations to a trusted partner.

All of which adds up to peace of mind for our customers as they embark on their journey towards digitalisation.