Beijing’s takeover of US subway car market raises concerns

The warnings sounds like the plot of a Hollywood spy thriller: The Chinese hide malware in a subway rail car’s security camera system that allows surveillance of Pentagon or White House officials as they ride – sending images back to Beijing.

Or sensors on the train secretly record the officials’ conversations. Or a flaw in the software that controls the train – inserted during the manufacturing process – allows it to be hacked by foreign agents or terrorists to cause a crash.

Congress, the Pentagon and industry experts have taken the warnings seriously, and now the Washington, D.C.-area subway system, known as Metro, will do the same. The transit agency recently decided to add cybersecurity safeguards to specifications for a contract it will award later this year for its next-generation rail cars following warnings that China’s state-owned rail car manufacturer could win the deal by undercutting other bidders.