Why Transit Agencies Need To Prioritize Cybersecurity

By March 9, 2022

Too often businesses overlook the importance of cyber security. 

We lock the doors and keep the threats we can see top of mind, but not those that we cannot. Unfortunately, those attacks that occur in the margins — the cyberattacks — can be catastrophic for your business. 

They can steal customer data and ruin your reputation. They can drain your funds dry. They can leave you vulnerable to costly lawsuits. They can cause irreparable financial harm that will force you to shut your doors.

While we might associate cybersecurity with big tech companies, government agencies, and financial institutions, public transit agencies need it just as badly. Let’s talk about why.

You’re Not As Ready As You Think You Are

In a study on the readiness of the transit agency against cyber threats, the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University in California found of the agencies that responded:

  • 81% believe they are prepared to manage and defend against cybersecurity threats
  • 73% feel they have access to information that helps them implement their cybersecurity preparedness program. 

That might sound reasonable, but dig a little deeper and you’ll see these results are misleading.

In the same study…

  • Only 60% actually have a cybersecurity preparedness program
  • 43% do not believe they have the resources necessary for cybersecurity preparedness
  • Only 47% audit their cybersecurity program at least once per year

Yikes! This shows a glaring gap in understanding what it means to be protected. Cybersecurity doesn’t just take care of itself. And if an attack hasn’t occurred, it doesn’t mean you’re safe. It just means no one has attempted to hack you yet or it happened and you weren’t aware. The longer you’re in business, the higher your odds are of becoming a target. 

Unfortunately, many companies wait until a major incident happens before cybersecurity becomes a priority. Without any software in place to protect your business and customers, you won’t know when one happens before it’s too late. Then, the damage might be too great to overcome. 

To see a real example of what happens when a transit agency is the victim of a ransomware attack, have a look at this case study

Remember It’s Not Just About You

While you might think your transit agency is safe, remember that cybersecurity is about more than just your business itself. You also need to protect those who keep you in business — your customers. Your cyber security needs to be airtight to protect your customer data. 

You are storing your clients’ personal health information and therefore your storage falls under guidelines set by HIPAA.  If you are not securing and encrypting this data, your customers’ information is vulnerable to attack, resulting in exposure of their PHI.  

A HIPAA violation will give s your transit agency a bad reputation. Customers will feel you left them open to an attack and their information was stolen, potentially causing them financial harm. We highly doubt they’ll bring you any further business after this occurs. 

Since the vast majority of cybersecurity attacks come through internal actions, you can help educate your employees and customers on how to stay secure. Provide materials on what threats to look out for and how to safely use your platform.

The Rise of Remote Workers

During COVID-19 times, many transit agencies now have remote workers, which increases the potential risk. This is non-traditional for the transit industry and has taken some adjustments. While some may love the convenience, it offers attackers a new way in.

The problem is — your remote workers are very susceptible to cyber threats. Your IT departments generally protect your organization’s assets and set a security policy, but they can’t oversee your entire team from all of their individual locations. You also can’t trust every single employee to put the necessary safeguards in place on their own. 

That’s why you’ll need software that can lock down your internal platforms from the cloud. It keeps your workers secure from wherever they’re logging into your system.

Cybersecurity Is A Long-Term Investment

Cybersecurity isn’t a simple band-aid. It’s not a one-time quick solution. It’s a long-term investment that continually evolves and requires flexibility. But staying up to date and on the path is the only way to be truly secure. 

Your transit agency must be vigilant when it comes to your cybersecurity, or you risk losing everything. Your customers, your employees, and your livelihood depends on it. 

To ensure your transit agency stays secure, partner with a NEMT software provider who uses the very latest cybersecurity to ensure your scheduling, billing, and reporting stays locked down. You have enough to worry about. 

Get in touch with TripMaster today to learn how our solution makes life easier for your riders while keeping everyone’s valuable information secure.