Amtrak OIG Urges Better Key Security

The Amtrak Office of Inspector General is urging the passenger carrier to take better care of the distribution, tracking, and retrieval of keys that control access to critical and sensitive infrastructure.

The report said the OIG investigation was prompted by an incident last July in which an Amtrak worker in Florida sought to sell switch and other railroad keys.

That worker subsequently was charged by state authorities for attempting to sell the keys and for receiving stolen property.

The OIG report said lack of security of keys to critical locations “could give bad actors an opportunity to disrupt train operations.”

Although the OIG report concluded it is not feasible to recover thousands of keys already in the public domain and that re-keying the thousands of locks involved would be cost-prohibitive, Amtrak can take steps to provide better security for its keys.

That includes development of a company-wide key management policy and assigning roles for key control.

Other recommendations included identifying and managing keys in circulation through an inventory of keys currently in possession of employee and contractors, retrieval of keys from those who no longer need them for current work duties or are about to leave the company, and establishment of a regular process to update that key inventory.

Finally, the OIG said Amtrak could establish a centralized method of tracking keys, such as key management software.

In a news release, the Amtrak OIG said Amtrak management agreed with these recommendations and will implement some of them by May 3l, 2023, and others by Sept, 30, 2024.

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