Momentum: Issue #25

August 5, 2019


At ITS America’s recent “Securing the Transportation Network” executive forum, cybersecurity experts from the public and private sectors convened to discuss the numerous challenges related to cyber threats facing transportation stakeholders. These high-level producers and managers of intelligent mobility technologies traveling over or connected to U.S. roadways met to discuss the adoption of a robust, layered approach to cybersecurity. This conversation centered on the best ways to mitigate cybersecurity risks to our nation’s transportation system, which have grown as vehicles and infrastructure become more connected.

Participants highlighted the challenge of balancing the need for vigorous cybersecurity measures with inadequate dedicated funding and outlined a series of best practices to employ when managing cybersecurity. In talking about how to secure transportation resources, common themes emerged – prioritizing strategic decision-making, focusing on workforce development, and sharing successful cybersecurity practices. Some recommendations and highlights include:

· As vehicles and infrastructure become increasingly connected, the vulnerabilities facing our transportation network continue to grow. Users and operators must often defend against these vulnerabilities with limited funding, while ensuring their security posture does not become too rigorous for the transportation technology to function. Balancing these considerations requires critical classification of threats to a given transportation system based on likelihood and potential risk, allowing limited cybersecurity resources to be focused on the most threatening possibilities.

· These potential risks vary from one system and organization to another, so there is no “one size fits all” approach to cybersecurity. Stakeholders, however, can implement best practices to mitigate their exposure to risk. Before new security techniques can be executed, current vulnerabilities must be identified. Often, dated software contains exploitable vulnerabilities, as it would not be updated as frequently with security patches. The sunsetting of this old software in favor of more up-to-date technology can help support cybersecurity infrastructure, as it is very difficult to retrograde security.

· When developing new cybersecurity practices, ensure that security infrastructure is scalable and expandable. New cyber threats are constantly being developed, so the defenses must be forward compatible with future updates and adaptations. There is no silver bullet solution to security, but a proper cyber infrastructure can provide industry and agencies alike the ability to respond to emerging threats.

· After initial security measures are put in place, participants emphasized the importance of cyber hygiene to maintain readiness. They recommended using live-threat detection to be alerted to risks on a real-time basis. Additionally, even with software that has been previously secured, be wary of adding new programs that have not been checked for security vulnerabilities.

· One of the most pressing challenges articulated at this forum was the need for cyber workforce development in the public sector. Numerous participants expressed concern about the lack of cybersecurity-focused staff within public sector agencies, as private companies are often able to offer more lucrative positions to job-seekers with cybersecurity backgrounds. Many automakers, technology companies, and agencies, however, have developed programs to boost cybersecurity training. Panelists emphasized the importance of these programs, as well as programs where cybersecurity professionals mentor aspiring professionals. Participants also advised that ideally all staff working on potentially targeted systems should undergo a common cybersecurity proficiency certification, ensuring a basic standard of security literacy among users of connected systems.

While there is still much to be done to prepare for emerging cybersecurity threats to both public and private sector transportation stakeholders, the strategies discussed throughout the event offer a blueprint for increased readiness. Collaboration between industry and agency leaders through sharing these insights continues to be an effective tactic in securing our increasingly connected transportation network. ITS America is proud to host these important conversations and will continue working with our task force on this critical issue.


Name: Bob Murphy
Title: Senior Project Manager
Company: AECOM

Bob’s job: Bob is with AECOM’s National Intelligent Transportation Systems and Traffic Incident Management (TIM) practice. As Senior Project Manager, he has provided leadership on projects for the last 20 years covering TMC operations, traffic incident management, traveler information and ITS in Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Texas. He has managed eight control room contracts covering freeway, toll road and express lane operations. Bob has served as the Chair of the 2018 ITSA Detroit Organizational Committee and ITSA Coordinating Council.  He also volunteered on the production teams for the ITS America Emergency Response Day promoting ITS benefits for first responders at events in Orlando, Detroit, Nashville, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Montreal and Washington DC. Bob began his career as a traffic reporter in his native Philadelphia and is a graduate of Temple University.

Current or previous #ITS Project: Florida’s Turnpike TMC operations, TxDOT Austin District Smart Work Zones, Florida DOT District 4 RTMC/ITMS Operations, Miami-Dade Expressway Authority TMC, 95/495 Express Lanes Virginia TCRO and the PennDOT Philadelphia SmarTraveler advanced traveler information service.

For the company’s TIM practice, Bob manages the TxDOT Statewide TIM program along with TIM coordinators in Texas and Florida improving first responder and motorist safety. He also managed three southeast Florida TIM teams; administered the Florida DOT District 4 Severe Incident Response Vehicle program and produced live demonstrations used for promotion of quick clearance initiatives and reduction of secondary crashes.

Accomplishments: Served as the youngest President of the Optimist Club of Marple-Newtown – A Friend of Youth, received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Cross County Connection TMA for TRANSCOM Communication Protocols on 9/11/01, accepted the 2010 Distinguished Service Award from the Palm Beach Traffic Safety Committee, successfully negotiated TV and gasoline retailer traffic reporting advertisement contracts and made it down the Black Diamond trail at Elk Mountain in the Poconos!

Most looking forward to at #ITSWC2020: Increased international participation with significant ITS news and events promoted through broadcast, internet and social media to professional and consumer markets.

Hobbies: Photography, weather watching, cartography, table tennis 

Family: Bob and his wife, Elizabeth, live in South Florida. They have two grown daughters, Ashley and Courtney, who are married to Ryan and Evan, respectively, and two grandbabies, Abigail and Joshua.

Most unusual job you have ever had before current position: Traffic Reporter for the ARCO Go Patrol/Shadow Traffic Network

First car you drove: Volkswagen 411 automatic