U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) on Monday grilled the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) on three areas related to systems communication – specifically cybersecurity operations, wireless communication, and interoperability of first-responder communications systems after radio problems hindered emergency response at scene of the accident two years ago.
Sen. Warner raised his concerns in a letter sent to WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld.
In addition, Sen. Warner requested an update and realistic timeline from Metro on its plans to expand wireless communication within its underground rail network. WMATA recently announced a plan to install public access Wi-Fi at all underground stations, but has yet to complete building full cellular coverage for riders across all of its routes.
“As a co-founder of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus and a staunch supporter of WMATA, I am acutely concerned about what this kind of attack may mean for transportation systems like WMATA. While early reports indicate that the attack on SFMTA may have been opportunistic rather than targeted, I am concerned that WMATA may represent a particularly enticing target for more advanced threats, given its importance to the region and the number of federal agencies that rely on the system to transport their workforces each day,” wrote Sen. Warner in the letter.
The letter also follows reports of a debilitating ransomware cyberattack on San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s computer systems on November of last year, which left its IT system inoperable, potentially exposed customers’ personal information, and forced it to forgo thousands of dollars in collected fare.