Adobe Stock / Tomasz Zajda

GRIDSMART Technologies, Inc. announced the formation of the GRIDSMART Information Security and Threat Intelligence Division (ISTI), a first-of-its-kind transportation cybersecurity group whose goal is to help transportation industry technology and infrastructure partners build proactive security programs. ISTI provides vulnerability and threat assessments as well as tailored security strategies to private companies, state/municipal Departments of Transportation (DOTs), and others working to proactively defend and enhance the resiliency of their technical infrastructure from cyber-attack.

ISTI will be led by Antonio Rucci, a respected cybersecurity expert with two decades of experience as a counterintelligence special agent.

Bill Malkes, co-founder and CEO of GRIDSMART, said ISTI was born of necessity. “There is a clear and present danger of cyber-attacks and cyber espionage on our infrastructure daily. Mobility is a strategic area for the enemy to attack. True to core GRIDSMART values, we will be in front of this danger, providing those we serve with practical, simple, and implementable solutions,” he said.

Under Rucci’s leadership, ISTI will work with organizations to uncover penetration points, secure systems, and design customized hack-resistant solutions to assure network integrity.

“Hackers are working tirelessly to discover weaknesses in our national infrastructure,” said Rucci. “In the cyber criminal’s mind, traffic management networks, connected driverless vehicles, and the spectrum of transportation technologies offer the potential for maximum impact and profound harm. At ISTI, we’re committed to becoming a resource for our clients and helping them build incident response programs. Data breaches will happen. How you respond defines your company.”

As transportation and Smart City initiatives accelerate, the implications of a cyber-attack are increasingly disturbing. In Washington, D.C. prior to last year’s presidential inauguration, suspected Romanian hackers infected and disabled 70% of the city’s closed-circuit cameras. Meanwhile, security services believe international terrorist organizations are monitoring autonomous vehicle developments and considering using driverless vehicles in attacks.

The financial implications are also daunting. In November 2016, a hacker infected the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s payment systems and schedule monitors with ransomware, preventing the city from collecting $50,000 in fares.

Malkes believes GRIDSMART’s ISTI will not only position customers for the future, but also for right now. “We are not talking about an obscure, distant threat,” he said. “This is already happening and whether the attackers are individuals working in their basement or sophisticated international regimes, they can do incredible damage in an instant. In this battle, ISTI will be the Special Operators.”