Implications of the Sunburst Cybersecurity Attack on the Transit Industry

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Implications of the Sunburst Cybersecurity Attack on the Transit Industry


In December 2020, the United States experienced its worst cyber-attack in reported history. The scale, breadth and depth of the Sunburst cyber-attack is still emerging. The attack, originally detected by the cybersecurity firm FireEye, was discovered because of a breach of their internal systems that was traced to the IT management software they used, supplied by SolarWinds. Since the discovery, the investigation has uncovered that over 18,000 organizations may have been breached as far back as March 2020. Entry points have been found beyond SolarWinds, further expanding the attack’s reach. Impacted organizations include government and corporate behemoths, from the Department of Defense to chipmaker Intel. Though the details are still coming to light, one thing is already very clear: every public and private organization, both in the United States and abroad, must focus on its cybersecurity program. These organizations must ensure they understand program vulnerabilities and have a plan in place to address them on an on-going basis. This MTI Perspective explores the potential impact of this cybersecurity attack on the public transit industry.


Scott Belcher is the President and CEO of SFB Consulting, LLC, where he specializes in transportation, transportation technology, the internet of things, smart cities, and the environment. Prior to his role at SFB Consulting, Mr. Belcher served as the CEO of the Telecommunications Industry Association for two years and the President and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) for seven years. Mr. Belcher has more than 35 years of private and public sector experience in Washington, D.C. Before joining ITS America, Mr. Belcher held senior management positions at a number of prominent trade associations, worked in private practice at the law firm of Beveridge & Diamond, PC, and served at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. Belcher serves on a number of public and private advisory boards. Mr. Belcher holds a JD from the University of Virginia, a Masters of Public Policy degree from Georgetown University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Redlands in Redlands, California.

Brandon Thomas is a Partner at Grayline Group, a firm focused on helping organizations understand and manage for disruption, as well as a Managing Partner of Blockview Partners, a firm focused on understanding the emerging blockchain and cryptocurrency space. Mr. Thomas has worked in both startup and corporate environments as he discovered his passion for working among disruptions. Mr. Thomas co-wrote the initial data strategy Democratic National Committee that went on to  revolutionized campaign politics. He was employee #1 at one of the first software-as-a-services (SaaS) startups in the HR space. More recently, Mr. Thomas has been working on behalf of clients to understand the disruption afoot in the public transit industry. He is co-author of “Chain Reaction: How Blockchain Will Transform the Developing World,” to be published by Palgrave Macmillan in autumn 2020. From the rise of data in politics to the emergence of SaaS to the ubiquitous nature of social media to the emerging blockchain and cryptocurrency realm, Mr. Thomas has worked to build numerous businesses to understand and exploit opportunities spurred by ever-increasing technological change. Brandon received his BA from The George Washington University and his MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.

January 2021



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