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By Daniel Niepow, Associate EditorIndustrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications in the rail industry can help improve efficiency and safety, said ARC Advisory Group Research Analyst Pranav Misal during a webcast yesterday.Such applications include sensors on rolling stock, tracks and other key assets."Digital transformation in railways is all about maintaining an end-to-end asset management eco-system, and optimizing communication networks, which eventually results in improving asset and train performance," Misal said during the webcast, which was sponsored by the Secure Rail Conference.Although digitization and IIoT hold promise for railroads, there are several cybersecurity risks to consider, Misal said. He highlighted four "pillars" of cybersecurity: information technology (IT) infrastructure, operations, employees and facilities."The human element will probably always remain the weakest link in any security system," Misal said. "But it is critical for rail operators to build a culture of awareness in the organization, creating likeminded individuals to further support the other pillars."To do that, railroads can develop employee education and training programs, he said.Misal's webcast was held ahead of the Secure Rail Conference, which will be held April 24-25 in Orlando, Florida. He will cover IIoT and related topics at the conference.