FILE - Norfolk Southern locomotives are seen being transported through the Conway Terminal in Conway, Pa., on Saturday, June 17, 2023. On Friday, Sept. 1, Norfolk Southern announced that they believe a software defect, rather than a hacker, was responsible for the extensive computer outage that necessitated the halting of all its trains for the majority of Monday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File) Image: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Norfolk Southern has stated that they believe a software defect, not a hacker, was responsible for the extensive computer outage that required the company to halt all its trains for the majority of a day earlier this week.
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On Friday, the railroad company announced that they had traced the issue that occurred on Monday back to a defect in the software that one of its vendors was utilizing to conduct maintenance on its data storage systems.
Both the primary and backup systems of the railroad became unresponsive simultaneously. The update was applied to one system and then automatically replicated to the other system, allowing the defect to propagate. Norfolk Southern did not disclose the identity of the vendor, referring to it only as "a leading global technology provider."
The Atlanta-based railroad reiterated that it has discovered no evidence to suggest that the outage was the result of “an unauthorized cybersecurity incident.”
Norfolk Southern reported that it has been making headway in resolving the backlog of trains that built up while its nearly 20,000-mile network of tracks in the Eastern U.S. was out of operation. The railroad has been striving to keep its customers informed about their shipments, but it has warned that the effects of the outage may persist for a few weeks.
Regulators have been closely examining Norfolk Southern's operations since a fiery train derailment in Ohio in February necessitated the evacuation of thousands of people from their homes due to fears about the toxic chemicals the train was transporting. The cleanup from that derailment is still underway.
A set of railroad safety reforms that members of Congress suggested following the Ohio derailment has been held up in the Senate and has not yet been scheduled for a hearing in the Republican-dominated House.