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Railroad Association Says TSA's Hacking Memo Was Wrong 121

McGruber writes "Wired reports that the American Association of Railroads is refuting the U.S. Transportation Security Administration memorandum that said hackers had disrupted railroad signals. In fact, 'There was no targeted computer-based attack on a railroad,' said AAR spokesman Holly Arthur. 'The memo on which the story was based has numerous inaccuracies.' The TSA memo was subject of an earlier Slashdot story in which Slashdot user currently_awake accurately commented on the true nature of the incident."
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Railroad Association Says TSA's Hacking Memo Was Wrong

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  • Lying again? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sadness203 ( 1539377 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @06:12PM (#38834049)
    I'm not surprised... TSA is a cancer.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Suki I ( 1546431 )

      I'm not surprised... TSA is a cancer.

      Just like the rest of the government.

    • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @06:36PM (#38834311) Homepage Journal

      I'm not surprised... TSA is a cancer.


      Talk like that will elevated it to PLAID

    • Re:Lying again? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jamstar7 ( 694492 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @07:10PM (#38834607)
      No, TSA is just justifying its budget. Nothing to see, move along, move along.
      • Re:Lying again? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <jwsmythe@jwsmy[ ].com ['the' in gap]> on Thursday January 26, 2012 @08:41PM (#38835229) Homepage Journal

        You are absolutely right. If there is no threat, there is no job. So they will make themselves worthwhile any way they can.

            Consider the current "Terrorists want to blow up your plane with binary explosives!" []. You can't carry [] a soda on a plane, unless you purchased from a TSA approved vendor inside of the security perimeter. And dear god, a mother can't bring a bottle of breast milk [].

            Even lighters [] were banned for a while, but after enough complaints, they again allowed them.

            Terrorists must be anyone who isn't an old rich white guy. If they talk funny, look different, or behave differently due to cultural differences, they must be terrorists. The evil enemy that all Americans must fear.

            The terrorist behind every Bush fear subsided. Then we killed the leader of the terrorists we were told to fear.

            They are trying to find the next threat. If there isn't a threat, there isn't a need for DHS, is there? Those new threats will keep coming. They may be foreign nationals with a misguided grudge. They may even be regular, but insane, Americans. []

            If they don't get enough real threats, they'll overstate some minor threat. They weren't clear what the real threat was. It could have been a local kid, who bounced through an off-shore server, who managed to log into a control box.

            My question is, why the hell would they leave those controls accessible by the Internet in general? Why was it connected to the Internet at all? Assuming there was a good reason for it, why weren't they restricted to select IPs? Rather than freaking out and blaming "the terrorists", why don't we focus on the problems like "our infrastructure shouldn't be accessible by the whole Internet".

            Hell, when I stick a server online with a previously unused IP, I get people trying to hit it in no time. If you want some entertainment, put an older unpatched distribution up with root logins enabled, and set the password to "password". I'd give it 10 minutes before it had new people running it.

            Lets not forget who the new terrorists are. All those people who agree with, or fall into the category of 99%. Domestic terrorism is our greatest threat. They must be stopped. We're going to need bigger prisons and more guys with badges and guns.

            Oh wait.. I forgot the right line. "I trust our government. Terrorists are behind every Bush. Protect me government. I'll give up any rights you ask me to."

      • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

        Scary thought:

        We don't buy into the BS, so they purposefully let something bad happen like a shooting at an airport or something. "See?! We're NEEDED!"

    • by Anonymous Coward

      don't be surprised the next time you fly if you're pulled to the side for "extra screening" due to that comment.

  • Fearmongering (Score:5, Interesting)

    by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi AT evcircuits DOT com> on Thursday January 26, 2012 @06:15PM (#38834083) Homepage

    I think the railroads are the last form of transportation where TSA is not allowed and they want their grubby little hands in the pot. There is literally a conspiracy going on to track every citizen where they are. They can already track your car with all the camera's (to monitor traffic or give you tickets) and license plate detection in unmarked and regular police cars as well as pull you over, detain you indefinitely and search you without cause if you are 200mi from a US border or airport. Now they want in on the train stations too so all railways would be included in their 200 mile zones?

    I say, kill the beast while you still can. The TSA needs to be shut down immediately.

    • Re:Fearmongering (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @06:23PM (#38834183) Homepage Journal
      I say, nonsense! Instead we should vote to rename the TSA to Central Services []. I mean, we've already caught them red-handed making up acts of terrorism to facilitate power grabs—what's missing?
      • Re:Fearmongering (Score:4, Insightful)

        by plover ( 150551 ) * on Thursday January 26, 2012 @06:55PM (#38834471) Homepage Journal

        After this little incident, and last year's "Russian Hackers Remotely Destroyed Your City's Pump, So Panic Now" incident, renaming them to be Minitrue [] might be more appropriate.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        The TSA simply needs to change it's name to reflect reality TRVPA The Rich Versus Poor Agency. Don't think so.

        What authority does the TSA have over private jets, how about charter jets, none, not one inspection, not one scan, not one probe.

        Who funded 911, would that be one of the richest countries in the world all to capable of providing funding for charter flights fully loaded with explosives, Saudi Arabia. Yet not even a hint of exploratory probing.

        So the 1% are enacting legislation and regulations

    • Re:Fearmongering (Score:4, Informative)

      by longacre ( 1090157 ) * on Thursday January 26, 2012 @06:25PM (#38834195) Homepage
      TSA is already allowed to handle ALL modes of transport. TSA screens passengers at some Amtrak stations. The NYPD subcontracts TSA to perform random screening at subway stations (it's cheaper than having cops search bags). TSA also recently started set up some checkpoints along interstates.
      • TSA also recently started set up some checkpoints along interstates.

        Citation needed. I saw that claimed in an earlier comment thread and it was debunked then.

      • IIRC, TSA is not allowed on BART property. All screening has to be done off-premises. BART does their own screening. NYPD/NYS has CHOSEN to let TSA do this for them; it's not their remit by default. If NYC residents don't like it, they can get the municipality to revoke TSA's license, and there's nothing anyone outside NYC can do about it.

        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          They were banned from Amtrak property for a while, too, after one of their little stunts. To the extent that they are allowed at all, it is at the sole pleasure and discretion of the Amtrak Police, who have final authority over the operation of the entire system, including all aspects of security. If they cross the line, they have been, and will continue to be, escorted off the premises. :-)

    • seeing how in 2012 railroad still use hole punch tickets taking seems a long way off and to have any thing like a TSA cheek point will need a BIG TIME rebuild of all the stations

      • Which is effectively impossible given that so many stations are little more than a ticket booth and a platform. In rural areas, it's more like needing to BUILD a station in the first place than to rebuild or reconfigure existing structures.
      • Why bother? It's not like you can fly a train into a building.

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        seeing how in 2012 railroad still use hole punch tickets taking seems a long way off and to have any thing like a TSA cheek point will need a BIG TIME rebuild of all the stations

        Dont be so quick to knock it. Where I live we moved to a RFID system that had millions of dollars in cost overruns before the roll-out and now has millions of dollars in cost overruns because the machines dont work properly. Not to mention the delays because people cant use the RIFD cards properly.

        A grandma will literally stare at a smarcard reader because she doesn't know where to swipe the RFID card and of course the RFID system is the only way she can get a senior citizens discount. Also people keep

    • The TSA isn't "not allowed" to be involved in trains; they've already done trials which were probably just done to work out costs.

  • by CelticWhisper ( 601755 ) <celticwhisper AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 26, 2012 @06:22PM (#38834157)

    I'm sure TSA is unhappy about this. They've long been talking about their intent to spread out into other modes of transportation. Since Amtrak's police have been throwing them out of train stations lately, they've no doubt been searching for any politically-convenient justification they can find to invade rail transit. Doubly so since Amtrak ridership is at an all-time high with people taking trains for the sole purpose of avoiding TSA.

    For the politically-active among us, this is perhaps a good opportunity to write to U.S. congresspeople to alert them about TSA's misrepresentation of this report, as well as state congresspeople to encourage them to pass state-level legislation reining in TSA (Tenth Amendment Center has a pre-written Travel Freedom Act [] that works at the state level to criminalize invasive TSA screening procedures).

    TSA isn't going to stop their reign of sexual assault and desecration of Constitutional rights until and unless the people stop it for them. Public opinion has been turning against TSA lately, especially with the three elderly travelers who were strip-searched late last year (about which TSA blatantly lied). Now is as good a time as ever to push your elected officials to stop TSA. The site in my sig is a good resource, as is Freedom To Travel USA []. Please do anything and everything you can to help stop TSA.

    • by daviee ( 137644 )

      How can TSA help with cyber attacks/hacker issues on railroads. Are they going after railroad workers and IT staffs to make sure they follow security protocols; then station TSA staffs at train control room doors?

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        Wasn't it a TSA machine that nobody with a clue was allowed to touch or disconnect that caused a packet storm that put a pile of important systems at LAX offline for many hours some years ago? Those clowns need to be kept away from IT systems for valid security reasons.
  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @06:22PM (#38834165) Homepage Journal

    Thats what u.s. 'deep government' backed by private interests have used to keep suppressing freedoms and keep progress and plurality outside not only u.s. but all nato members : []

    Every nato member got one of these founded in their own country. these underground organizations then staged assassinations of non-u.s./nato aligned political figures, journalists, activists. in most cases, extra steps were taken to set up leftist (or whatever opposing faction) terrorist organizations which were actually under control of these gladio clones. these terrorist organizations then staged terror attacks while claiming to be doing these for the political views that gladio wanted to alienate public from. for most of the cold war, this was left ideas. and not surprisingly, in all countries these terrorist attacks were used to alienate public from those political views, marginalize their ideas, and also implement various 'security' measures and laws to limit freedoms.

    i dont need to tell any american that after soviet union ended and there was no way that this scheme would work, suddenly the 'terror threat' from islamist groups replaced these - and you all know what happened after 2001. ...................

    this is no different. in case you have noticed, we are having an extremely ridiculous amount of 'cyber threat' bullshit coming out of not only private interests, but also the government. they are basically just applying the same policies they used to control every aspect of life, to internet. internet was 'way too much' free for them.

    i think we dont need to even dwell on the fact that tsa is just a cog in this machine. but, they are floppy at it.

  • Not surprising.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by b5bartender ( 2175066 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @06:28PM (#38834247)
    So that's the second [] false "cyberattack" in so many months..
  • Trains carrying toxic chemicals will be derailing. School buses will be rammed by freight trains at inoperative crossings.

    How will we know the difference between an attack and normal operations?

  • ... still makes it sound like some major incident with their nomenclature.

  • by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @07:02PM (#38834531)

    The original currently_awake comment wasn't informative, it was merely a correct guess, and an extremely fuzzy one at that.

    Slashdot comment threads will always be more accurate than authoritative information, as long as you grade them relative to a stopped clock.

  • Really TSA? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kozar_The_Malignant ( 738483 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @07:16PM (#38834643)
    Was this really TSA? Let's see:
    • False story... check
    • Spreading FUD... check
    • Blaming hackers... check
    • For something that didn't happen... check

    Yep, TSA alright.

  • To /. crowd: what are the plans continuing to maintain the existing reader / commenter base of this site once the government shuts down the Internet?

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Rupert Murdoch and others that rent large portions of the government are more interested in an internet that can squeeze more money out of the consumer than no internet at all.
      BTW, those links are annoying for people like me that want to read SOMETHING about what a video is about before hitting play. I suppose it's all very cool and post literate but instead it conveys an impression of illiteracy and stupidity whether that is deserved or not.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @08:36PM (#38835201) Homepage

    There was one event a few years ago where some attack on a network resulted in a signal outage. That was because the long-haul links to wayside signal controllers went over an IP network.

    But those aren't safety related. The safety logic is all local, in wayside boxes. That's where the train detection to signal control logic is. The long-haul connections are for dispatching - which train goes where, setting up routes, etc. Both the dispatching and safety information have to agree to produce a green light.

    An outage of the links to the dispatcher turns signals red and stops trains. Such outages happen occasionally, and they're a huge headache, but not a safety issue. As a backup, trains can be given train orders by voice radio, but they're limited by slow-speed operation in that mode.

    • by havana9 ( 101033 )

      An outage of the links to the dispatcher turns signals red and stops trains. Such outages happen occasionally, and they're a huge headache, but not a safety issue. As a backup, trains can be given train orders by voice radio, but they're limited by slow-speed operation in that mode.

      Failing voice radio, there are also the emergency wired phones near the signals, one of the engineers call the next station for orders. when the train arrives in station the station manager phones the next station to ask if the line is clear.

Promising costs nothing, it's the delivering that kills you.