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Thousands of interventions. This is how Russia attacked the European railways

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Russia has made thousands of interventions in European railway networks since it launched its armed invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Czech Transport Minister Martin Kupka told the Financial Times on Friday. In his opinion, the attempts at interference were aimed at destabilizing the European Union and sabotaging critical infrastructure.

As Martin Kupka explained, the hacking campaign included attacks on the signaling systems and networks of the Czech national railway operator Ceske drahy, and the attacks disabled ticketing systems and raised concerns about the possibility of effective interference with signaling, which could cause serious accidents.

– This is definitely a difficult moment, but I am really very pleased because we are able to defend all systems against a successful attack – he said.

Threat report

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In its Friday publication, the Financial Times pointed out that while Russian attempts to destabilize European energy infrastructure have been well documented, there is less discussion about interference in transport networks.

Railway station in Prague, Czech Republic NGCHIYUI/Shutterstock

READ: Hackers from Russia attacked the websites of offices and stores

The EU cybersecurity agency published its first report on threats to transport in March last year. It stated that “attacks on railway companies are occurring at an increasing rate, which is mainly related to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.” There have been serious cyber attacks by “pro-Russian hacker groups” on railway companies in Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Estonia.

The daily adds that the Czech cybersecurity agency, NUKIB, warned about the growing number of cyberattacks. “One of the most important trends last year was the growing interest of hostile attackers in the energy and transport sectors,” wrote a report published in July last year.

In turn, Ceske drahy stated that they have “observed an increased number of cyberattacks on digital infrastructure” and are constantly strengthening their cybersecurity.

READ: Russia-Ukraine conflict. British and Czech services warn against cyberattacks

Restrictions introduced

Kupka said that the Czech Republic will introduce restrictions on the ability of foreign operators to submit offers in tenders for the planned high-speed rail line, which is to enable travel from Prague to Berlin and Vienna in four hours.

– It's not something like a ban, but we would prefer European companies. In the case of digital parts, as well as signaling systems, we have strongly requested restrictions (for foreign operators supplying certain parts) because it is part of critical infrastructure, he explained.

Main photo source: NGCHIYUI/Shutterstock

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