Operation of Transport and Logistics in a Time of (Cyber)Insecurity

  • Chris BronkEmail author
Part of the Computational Methods in Applied Sciences book series (COMPUTMETHODS, volume 54)


All of transport is becoming increasingly automated and computerized. Consider the recent Boeing 737 Max 8 accidents in Indonesia and shortly thereafter. All indications point to a software error in code adopted following a redesign of the aircraft in which larger engines were installed than on previous Boeing 737 models as the likely culprit in both accidents. A computer software error likely overwhelmed both doomed flight crews as they fought the computerized instructions that were being given to the aircraft shortly after takeoff. A total of 346 persons died in the two accidents. Their loss should give stark warning about the safety of computer code emplaced in transportation systems: land, maritime, and air. There is little evidence of liability in commodity software. Since the infancy of modern operating systems, computer bugs, crashes, and hacks have plagued the Information Technology (IT) industry. While countless business plans, academic paper drafts, and personal correspondence have been lost to software bugs and crashes, the idea of filing suit on commodity productivity and operating system software manufacturers for damages has always been and remains a preposterous idea. What should concern us in transport is a new phenomenon—the merging of automation or process control software with network interconnectivity. Whether an aircraft autopilot, a shipboard navigation system, or a self-driving semi-truck, there remains a drive to interconnect these systems with others, often via the same technology and protocols that encompass the Internet. Unfortunately, the Internet remains a rickety ship with regard to security from unauthorized manipulation or subversion. Establishing the ideational footing for a risk and remediation strategy for this problem in the transport sector is the purpose of this paper.


Cybersecurity Internet of Things (IoT) Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) Critical infrastructure 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Information System Security Faculty, College of TechnologyUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA

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