Russia is trying to sabotage European railways, Czech minister said

Pierluigi Paganini April 16, 2024

Czech transport minister warned that Russia conducted ‘thousands’ of attempts to sabotage railways, attempting to interfere with train networks and signals.

Early this month, the Czech transport minister Martin Kupka warned that Russia has conducted ‘thousands’ of attempts to sabotage European railways.

The Czech Republic’s transport minister told the Financial Times that the attacks aim at destabilizing the EU and sabotaging critical infrastructure.

Kupka confirmed that Russia-linked threat actors conducted “thousands of attempts to weaken our systems” since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The state-sponsored hackers also targeted signaling systems and networks of the Czech national railway operator České dráhy, Kupka said.

The Czech cyber defense was able to detect and neutralize these attacks; however, the minister highlighted that sabotaging railways could cause serious accidents.

“It’s definitely a difficult point . . .[but] I’m really very satisfied because we are able to defend all systems [from] a successful attack,” Kupka told FT.

The Czech cyber security agency, NUKIB, warns of a surge in cyber attacks, particularly targeting the energy and transportation sectors. The attacks escalated since the approval of a 2022 law allowing measures against foreign entities suspected of human rights violations or cyber crimes.

The attacks were also reported by the European cybersecurity agency ENISA, according to the “ENISA THREAT LANDSCAPE: TRANSPORT SECTOR” published in March 2023

“The railway sector also experiences ransomware and data-related threats primarily targeting IT systems like passenger services, ticketing systems, and mobile applications, causing service disruptions. Hacktivist groups have been conducting DDoS attacks against railway companies with an increasing rate, primarily due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.” states the report.

The Czech government is planning to build high-speed railways connecting Berlin, Prague and Vienna, it also announced that it prefers European operators to bid on the tenders.

In August 2023, Poland’s Internal Security Agency (ABW) and national police launched an investigation into a hacking attack on the state’s railway network. According to the Polish Press Agency, the attack disrupted the traffic.

Stanisław Zaryn, deputy coordinator of special services, told the news agency that Polish authorities were investigating an unauthorized usage of the system used to control rail traffic.

“For the moment, we are ruling nothing out,” Stanislaw Zaryn told PAP. “We know that for some months there have been attempts to destabilise the Polish state,” he added. “Such attempts have been undertaken by the Russian Federation in conjunction with Belarus.”

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Poland’s railway system represented a crucial transit infrastructure for Western countries’ support of Ukraine.

Zaryn explained that the attacks are part of a broader activity conducted by Russia to destabilize Poland.

Pierluigi Paganini

Follow me on Twitter: @securityaffairs and Facebook and Mastodon

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, European railways)

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