One often thinks of cyber-security with regard to government agencies, financial institutions, or high-speed trading platforms. But now, more than ever, cybersecurity is vitally important for public transit agencies.
At MV Transportation, the threats we currently think about most — the ones that keep us up at night — are those involving financial transactions, emails, and bank transfers. It is critical for maintaining security today that every organization is employing two or three factors that verify these areas.
Another concern relates to the COVID-19 pandemic. So many organizations have implemented virtual work arrangements. That might not be out of the ordinary for other industries, but in transit our work has traditionally been very physical…yet, we now have people that are working from home, and they are very susceptible to cyber threats. IT departments are usually responsible for protecting organizational assets and setting security policy, but they can’t control every user in every setting.
We recommend that transit agencies do several things to protect themselves. First and foremost, be humble. Cybersecurity is a thankless job. Bad actors wake up every day, and no matter how strong you think you are, criminals are always looking for a new weakness to exploit to penetrate your defenses.
Next, recognize that cybersecurity is a long, multi-year road map and journey. You cannot get there all once. We think the right path is “zero trust,” where no one inside or outside your organization is trusted until their identities are confirmed. We’re happy to share the methods required for that approach with our agency customers and partners so that we go on that journey together. We also recommend pursuing independent risk scoring, independent baseline testing, and an outside view of your security posture.
Finally, and perhaps the most important element of cybersecurity, is conditioning your user base to be diligent about cybersecurity and aware of possible threats. Ninety percent of attacks happen through inadvertent actions of users, so training and vigilance among this group is paramount.
In addition to supporting customer’s cybersecurity planning needs, MV Transportation offers a portfolio of additional professional services combining their transit industry experience and operational and technology expertise. Their services aim to address critical aspects of transit operations, including improving the passenger experience, driving increased operational efficiency, and ensuring compliance to FTA and ADA regulations.
MV’s professional service portfolio includes project-based services, ongoing support agreements, and staff augmentation aligned to the following critical areas of transportation services:
- Transit Planning – Short and long-term capacity planning, scheduling, and route optimization for fixed-route, paratransit, and on-demand service models. MV professionals can develop route and schedule adjustments that support seasonal changes, improve passenger satisfaction, address driver scheduling needs, and review opportunities for deadhead reduction.
- Technology Solutions – MV maintains a deep level of expertise and strategic partnerships with the leading transportation software platform providers enabling them to manage the technology for their customers. Services span contact center management, technology assessments, solution deployment, and tiered support for operational and in-vehicle hardware and software.
- Route Mapping – MV helps customers keep up with ever-evolving city and street changes by developing new GIS maps or updating existing profiles, ensuring agencies always meet the needs of their passengers and maintain compliance to FTA and ADA guidelines.
- Decision Support – MV data scientists transform historical and current data into actionable business intelligence with solutions that seamlessly integrate with an agency’s existing software investments to consume and visualize data and help targeted roles make timely and impactful decisions. They also offer advanced skills in machine learning and algorithm-based rules development to provide customers with predictive performance modeling.
Jim Haring is Chief Information Officer at MV Transportation