As concerns about Russians hacking critical American infrastructure escalate, motorcoach operators are feeling the pressure to be vigilant about their cybersecurity precautions.
What began in late January with a warning from U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas has only increased with Russia’s attacks on Ukraine.
Last week, President Joe Biden emphasized previous warnings he had issued, describing the possible Russian response as part of Moscow’s “playbook.” He added that the warnings are based on evolving intelligence that the Russian government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks.
“You have the power, the capacity and the responsibility to strengthen the cybersecurity and resilience of the critical services and technologies on which Americans rely,” Biden said during a March 21 news conference. “We need everyone to do their part to meet one of the defining threats of our time — your vigilance and urgency today can prevent or mitigate attacks tomorrow.”
First directive to bus operators
The tensions mark the first time the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued a security directive to over-the-road bus or intercity bus companies, according to David Cooper, TSA Industry Engagement Manager.
“I’ve been there since almost the beginning, and we’ve never issued a security directive on the surface side, other than after the 2004 Madrid train bombing, where we issued a security directive on the mass transit passenger rail side. So this is new,” Cooper said during a presentation at the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) Town Hall on Feb. 17.
TSA representatives have been meeting with operators to discuss steps to protect their business infrastructure.
TSA on ‘high alert’
In February, Ken Presley, Vice President of Legislative & Regulatory Affairs & Industry Relations/COO, was one of the hundreds of transportation leaders who took part took in a town hall led by the TSA and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
“TSA is on high alert now due to concerns about possible cyberattacks or direct attacks on transportation networks. They urged the industry to continue to be vigilant with respect to both individual motorcoach security as well as company computer networks,” Presley said.
TSA has issued Information Circular Surface Transportation-2022-02 to enhance surface transportation cybersecurity, which includes companies providing transportation by an over-the-road bus.
To see guidance for all organizations, operators should refer to the “Shields Up” program on CISA.gov-shieldsup for tools and reporting information.