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TASC: Transparent, Agnostic, Secure Channel for CBTC Under Failure or Cyberattack

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Reliability, Safety, and Security of Railway Systems. Modelling, Analysis, Verification, and Certification (RSSRail 2022)

Part of the book series: Lecture Notes in Computer Science ((LNCS,volume 13294))

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Abstract

Modern railway systems rely on communication-based train control (CBTC) for traffic management and automation. CBTC provides the controller with precise, timely updates on the position/speed of trains and communicates the corresponding control information to the trains. However, disruptions due to potential component failures and jamming attacks threaten the communication availability in CBTC. To improve availability, we propose a countermeasure based on redundant communications. The proposed Transparent, Agnostic, Secure Communication (TASC) system sniffs and tunnels the CBTC messages through an alternative network to their intended receivers. Prior works mitigate the impact of jamming and failures through hardware modifications to CBTC. In contrast, TASC is transparent to the underlying system, causing no interference unless signaling is disrupted, and designed to be agnostic to communication protocols above the physical-layer. Unlike commonly adopted active redundancy via the duplication of components, TASC steps in only upon signaling disruptions, employing standby redundancy.

This work was supported in part by the National Research Foundation (NRF), Prime Ministers Office, Singapore, under its National Cybersecurity R&D Programme (Award No. NRF2014NCR-NCR001-031) and administered by the National Cybersecurity R&D Directorate, and in part by the National Research Foundation, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore under its Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) programme.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Zone Controller, also known as the Wayside Controller, is responsible for controlling a particular section comprising of multiple access points in the railway network.

  2. 2.

    For 128-bit security, we chose SHA-256 as the digest function of the employed HMAC. We concatenate a timestamp to the input of HMAC for freshness.

  3. 3.

    Likewise, HMAC can be sent along with the train data for authentication and integrity. Encryption may be considered if confidentiality is of concern. We used 128-bit AES for 128-bit security.

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Tefek, U., Esiner, E., Wei, L., Hu, YC. (2022). TASC: Transparent, Agnostic, Secure Channel for CBTC Under Failure or Cyberattack. In: Collart-Dutilleul, S., Haxthausen, A.E., Lecomte, T. (eds) Reliability, Safety, and Security of Railway Systems. Modelling, Analysis, Verification, and Certification. RSSRail 2022. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 13294. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-05814-1_16

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-05814-1_16

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