Data integrity threats and countermeasures in railway spot transmission systems

Hoon Wei Lim, William G. Temple, Bao Anh N. Tran, Binbin Chen, Zbigniew Kalbarczyk, Jianying Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Modern trains rely on balises (communication beacons) located on the track to provide location information as they traverse a rail network. Balises, such as those conforming to the Eurobalise standard, were not designed with security in mind and are thus vulnerable to cyber attacks targeting data availability, integrity, or authenticity. In this work, we discuss data integrity threats to balise transmission modules and use highfidelity simulation to study the risks posed by data integrity attacks. To mitigate such risk, we propose a practical two-layer solution: At the device level, we design a lightweight and low-cost cryptographic solution to protect the integrity of the location information; at the system layer, we devise a secure hybrid train speed controller to mitigate the impact under various attacks. Our simulation results demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA7
JournalACM Transactions on Cyber-Physical Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • Adversary model
  • Physical movement
  • Railway transportation system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Control and Optimization
  • Artificial Intelligence


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