Four Democratic senators representing the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) service area are calling on the agency to mitigate cybersecurity risks as it seeks to procure new 8000-series rail cars. In a letter sent late last week to WMATA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul Wiedefeld, the senators raised concerns about potential security risks should the rail-car contract be issued to manufacturers funded by certain other foreign governments.
For example, the China Railway Rolling Stock Corp. has used low bids to win four of five large U.S. transit car contracts since 2014, according to The Washington Post. “While other cities have welcomed this kind of investment, we have serious concerns about similar activity happening here in our nation’s capital, particularly when it could involve foreign governments that have explicitly sought to undermine our country’s economic competitiveness and national security,” the letter stated.
In September 2018, WMATA issued an RFP that called for the cars to include technologies such as automatic train control, network and timeline control, video surveillance, monitoring and diagnostics and data interface.
“Many of these technologies could be entirely susceptible to hacking or other forms of interference if adequate protections are not in place to ensure they are sourced from safe and reliable suppliers,” the senators’ letter stated.