An alleged “cyber attack” that stopped around two dozen trains in Poland over the weekend was probably a technically comparatively simple attack that exploited a long-known weak point in the infrastructure. This is reported by the US magazine Wired, citing security researcher Lukasz Olejnik. According to him, many Polish trains still use unencrypted radio technology and whoever sends the right signal on the right frequency can stop a train. A statement by the Polish railway operator PKP PLK also suggests that this is exactly what happened in this case published on X (formerly Twitter). became.
Path of attack known for years
The British BBC, among others, reported on the alleged cyber attack on the train network at the weekend. According to this, around 20 trains were stopped as a result of the attack, but within a few hours everything was back to plan. The attack by the hackers “into the frequencies of the railways” was accompanied by a recording of the Russian national anthem and a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Poland is a particularly close ally of Ukraine in the war against Russia. Not only politicians regularly travel to the attacked country on Polish trains, but supplies also arrive in the country. Polish investigators therefore pointed to Russia.
As Olejnik now explains to Wired, there was probably nothing “cyber” about the attack at all. With a transmitter costing around 30 euros, anyone can produce the three short radio signals that bring Poland’s trains to an immediate stop. Not only has this been described online for years, even an EU document explains how it works. You just have to get comparatively close to the trains and you can only send from a few kilometers away. Because the attack is so easy, Olejnik thinks repetitions are possible. The trains are to be secured by 2025. As a result of the emergency braking, there were delays, according to the PAP news agency, and no one was injured. In the meantime, Poland’s domestic secret service ABW has started investigations.
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