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Spinning our Wheels

Spinning our Wheels is a commuting blog about the challenges of getting around Atlanta by car, bus, MARTA, bicycles and on foot written by transportation reporter David Wickert

Audit: MARTA IT network vulnerable to "catastrophic failure"

MARTA’s computer network is so old and unreliable it’s vulnerable to a catastrophic failure that could shut down its rail and bus system, a recent audit found.

The November audit by Fujitsu, obtained by Channel 2 Action News, found a slew of problems with the transit agency’s information technology infrastructure. Among them:

*MARTA’s computer network is “very vulnerable to catastrophic failure.”

*Network “operations are substantially blind to outages due to lack of sufficient use of monitoring and troubleshooting tools.”

*The agency has two existing data centers and plans for a third in the same geographic area. Because of their proximity, a natural disaster could impact all three centers, “causing network outages and lengthy recover intervals, leading to inability to operate rail or bus systems.”

*The network’s fiber strands are brittle and easily damaged when handled, increasing the risk of outages. Much of the fiber is exposed to moisture and other conditions that can accelerate aging and inhibit the transmission of data.

In the audit, MARTA agreed its network is aging and needs to be upgrade its network. But it could take up to 18 months. The agency said other problems could take six to 14 months to address.

In a statement released to Channel 2, MARTA said it is “devoted to the safety and security of our customers.

“We have conducted proactive reviews of our technology infrastructure to help us determine where, if any, meaningful vulnerabilities exist,” the statement said. “Using these specialized internal reports, commissioned from industry leading consultants, we created a comprehensive roadmap designed to enhance our systems while reducing risks across the enterprise.

“No system is impenetrable,” the statement said. “However, MARTA will remain vigilant in safeguarding customer data and the integrity of our technology platforms.”

You can watch Channel 2’s report on the audit here.

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About the Author

David Wickert covers transportation issues for the Enterprise team. He joined the AJC in 2010 and has also covered local government in Gwinnett and Fulton counties.