Managing the nation’s infrastructure means various vital roles
- By S. Guerry Bruner
- Jan 23, 2019
In today’s connected world, Intelligent Transportation Systems
(ITS) play vital roles managing our Nation’s critical infrastructure
including roadways, interstates, intersections, ports, mass
transit lines, city traffic, and urban mobility. As Connected
Infrastructure, roadways with Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) and
Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) connectivity, and Connected Autonomous
Vehicles (CAV) have become a reality, securing our infrastructure
both through physical and cyber security measures is an absolute requirement.
This higher level of security is critical, yet it continues to
be overlooked and undervalued.
So, what are these security concerns? First and foremost is protecting
and securing the ITS network infrastructure—city, county,
state, and federal—from outside attack or unauthorized entry. Either
of these can cause potentially devastating consequences:
- Cyber-attack with ransom-ware or denial of service, which could
create chaos and disruption of normal operations.
- Disruption of traffic signal operations that could result in vehicle
accidents, putting our mobile citizens at risk.
Where Do We Begin?
Taking a layered approach to securing this infrastructure, one must
start at the edge and work inwards. In the case of the transportation infrastructure, that edge is network devices deployed on our roadways
and highways. One need only look left or right at their next
traffic intersection stop to see that silver aluminum cabinet with the
ubiquitous “Dial 511” blue sticker brightly affixed. Inside these cabinets
are intelligent devices and connectivity that if left unprotected,
leaves our country’s infrastructure and citizens exposed for critical
Securing access to our infrastructure and managing key/card holders
is critical as we are now exposed to an entire gamut of risk from
seemingly harmless vandalism to more malicious physical and cyberattacks.
Used to store and protect complex equipment that connects
and controls traffic signals, vehicles, communications, digital road signage
and more, traffic cabinets are critical for road and highway safety
and most with access to a live network…and all with little to no secure
access or security monitoring. This is our starting point.
Despite the fact that physical access to traffic infrastructure can
have an immediate and widespread impact, the vast majority of cabinets
are secured with a simple unsecure mechanical key. Hundreds
of thousands of key-holders currently have access to a piece of the
country’s critical infrastructure. This presents a serious threat as we
continue to rely more on technology to operate and control our vehicles,
signal and communications systems.
Securing the transportation infrastructure and ITS starts with eliminating
the use of uncontrolled and unaccountable mechanical keys.
Through collaboration and education, a community is being formed
to impart knowledge and take action securing transportation’s critical
infrastructure. A small circle of established industry-leading solutions
providers have been brought in to move the technology development
Door opening solutions for the physical security industry and
typical door security hardware technology are now being developed
specifically for transportation and ITS solutions as well.
“Offline” Access Control
Intelligent Keys and eCylinder Traffic Cabinet Locks offer a significant
increase in security over the common #2 mechanical lock and key. eCylinder
Traffic Cabinet Locks can be installed quickly and easily, providing
an affordable option to upgrade the security of traffic cabinets.
This solution includes intelligent keys and cylinders, both assignable
to specific DOT personnel and specific cabinets, bringing
a higher level of access control and audit capability for those securing
the ITS “edge”. Unlike the obsolete #2 mechanical key, intelligent
keys have designated access rights and schedules by user and can be
expired or revoked to meet daily security needs. Software applications
(either on premises or in the Cloud) enable DOT management
to control who goes where (and when), and then evaluate their operations
through highly specialized software analytics. This is what
is termed an “offline” solution, ideal when live monitoring, remote
access, and door security alarm features are not essential.
“Online” Access Control
Real-time online ITS edge protection applies physical security technology
to create a solution that allows DOT agencies to actively monitor
and control cabinet doors at any location on the ITS infrastructure
network. Initial versions of this solution are now being deployed
with industry-leading innovative access control technologies.
This true “online” access control provides critical high-level security
by enabling real-time monitoring and remote lock or unlock capability
at the traffic cabinet, leveraging pre-existing cabinet network
connections. The industry’s first “online” solution for traffic and ITS
cabinets is now available. This active traffic lock system adds security
intelligence to existing ITS cabinets and provides full management
and control capabilities of the traffic infrastructure. Combining innovation
from a group of global leading security solution providers, assets
are protected using secure encrypted card readers, vandal proof
heavy duty locks and intelligent controllers connected to high-end
systems integrated into the ITS infrastructure, providing security and
access control with multiple credential technologies including secure
encrypted card, PIN or mobile access (BLE and NFC).
Best of Both Technologies?
Can Intelligent Keys and eCylinders be used in conjunction with online
powered card readers and locks? Leading solution providers say
yes, utilizing a combination of active “online” access control with Intelligent
Key override provides the safest, most secure solution possible.
With this combination even in the event of system or power failure,
access to the cabinet is always allowed but only to authorized personnel,
controlled and recorded to maintain security and audit history.
Infrastructure Security Management
So the question is: do you know who has access to your ITS devices
and traffic cabinets? Physical access to traffic infrastructure exposes
agencies to both physical and cyber related attacks. With connected
vehicle technology and more IoT connected devices than ever before,
legal and liability issues are a reality for agencies operating these
assets. Entry into an ITS cabinet must be controlled, managed and
monitored to maintain safety and security. Now more robust solutions
exist in both “offline” and “online” options.
Management of critical infrastructure and access control must be
handled efficiently and securely. Centrally managed software combining
access control with video verification, asset management, and
work flow operations allows increased awareness and response times
for transportation agency operations. Knowledge of who is inside
your cabinets or how long a contractor was onsite is now available
through one single pane of glass, creating not only a secure infrastructure
but operational efficiencies as well. Agencies should have
the ability to remotely lock down every cabinet on the network, grant
permissions or open a cabinet with a stroke of a key if needed.
The time is now to be taking steps to ensure the security of our
critical infrastructure systems. Cyber security attacks are a real threat
for transportation infrastructure as we depend on the digital world
more with every passing day. It is time to take an active approach to
securing our ITS devices. Secure the edge. Secure your traffic.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of Security Today.