The Role of Safety and Security in Public Transport

The move the public transportation industry is making towards digitalization undoubtedly offers a vast range of benefits; however, greater connectivity also increases the ‘attack surface’ (i.e. the number of potential entry points) that malicious actors can target.

Traditionally, the principal concern in maintaining safety and security within the public transportation industry has focused on protecting the physical safety of passengers and vehicles; however, there is an ever-growing need to also address a myriad of online risks.

Threats once viewed as hypothetical are now, unfortunately, being acted out in real-world scenarios on an ever more frequent basis. On May 12, 2021, several security vulnerabilities that affect most, if not all, Wi-Fi devices were publicly disclosed. The vulnerabilities, collectively named as FragAttacks (fragmentation and aggregation attacks), affect all modern security protocols of Wi-Fi, including the latest WPA3 specification.

As of October 2020, only 60 percent of U.S. transit agencies have cyber-attack preparedness plans. Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) assessed the readiness of transit agencies, surveying 90 transit agency technology leaders and found more than 80 percent of agencies reported feeling prepared for a cybersecurity threat.


To effectively safeguard against the different types of risk, a holistic and robust cyber-protection system must be in place.


Here are 5 reasons why safety and security play a key role in any successful public transportation system:

  1. Safe Passengers are Happy Passengers

Enacting safety and security measures has been shown to significantly impact public opinion. It is in the interests of operators and policy makers to constantly improve, keeping pace with the latest innovations to maintain ridership numbers and passenger satisfaction.

  1. Public Perception is Key 

With the prevalence of instant social media communication, even minor incidents can be rapidly shared among the population. When incidents occur, it has never been easier for the public and mass media to scrutinize the safeguards that were in place at the time. Maintaining the safe and efficient movement of people to and from their destinations is a priority for public transport operators and authorities, and an important consideration for any policy maker’s agenda.

  1. Terrorism, Crime & Reputation

It is an unfortunate, yet unavoidable fact that perpetrators of criminal and terrorist activities seek to exploit security flaws in public transport systems, and that when they do so, the cost and exposure arising from such incidents can cause irreparable damage to businesses involved.

  1. Better Legal & Regulatory Compliance

As legislation continually evolves, it is no doubt beneficial for transport operators to invest in adaptive, future-proof technology which develops concurrently; delivering peace of mind that their transport systems will consistently remain compliant.

  1. Operating in a Dynamic Environment

It is important to recognize that cybersecurity is an ongoing and evolving process, in which vulnerabilities cannot be taken for granted, and an area in which operators and authorities cannot afford to become static in terms of their approach.


Our direction parallels the standards set by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) for a cybersecurity strategy: “Improve resilience to cyber-incidents by hardening digital infrastructure to be more resistant to penetration and disruption; improving the ability to defend against sophisticated and agile cyberthreats; and recovering quickly from incidents, whether caused by malicious activity, accident or natural disaster”.

Icomera’s technology and processes are continuously tested and strengthened, and we work with our clients, as Digital Partners to better protect their passengers, their teams, and their communities in everything we do.