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Cybersecurity is 'cornerstone' of autonomous, connected driving

August 10, 2018
The operation of self-driving vehicles will require an intense focus on cybersecurity, experts said Aug. 3 during a conference in Detroit organized by Billington Cybersecurity, which brought together representatives from the automobile and tech industries and the government.
Dan Ammann, the president of General Motors, told the conference that GM cybersecurity is one of "the key enablers" to achieving GM’s vision of "zero crashes, zero emission and zero congestion."
"As we continue to develop our Autonomous Vehicle program, safety is paramount, just like it is in everything that we do," Ammann said. "For our customers, that means providing the safest products possible, including the strongest cybersecurity."
"In today’s connected vehicles, safety and cybersecurity are one and the same," he added.
Ammann also said public and private sectors must collaborate to prevent security breaches and thwart bad actors. "The public and policymakers would view a major cybersecurity incident involving any one of us ... as an incident involving all of us," he said.
GM seeks to make the Bolt its first fully autonomous vehicle.
"At General Motors, we view cybersecurity as a shared concern with the rest of the industry," said Ammann, noting that any breach of cybersecurity could "cripple" the development of AVs.
"Our collective customers are best served by industry-wide collaboration and solutions," Ammann said.
"Cybersecurity is the cornerstone of autonomous and connected driving," Thomas Billington, the founder of Billington Cybersecurity, said as he opened the conference.
"There is no magic bullet," said Heidi King, deputy administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The challenge is to build a culture of strong risk management that searches for threats and vulnerabilities, she said.
"Public confidence is key to technology deployment," King said. Collaboration and cooperation between government, suppliers and manufacturers is one of the keys to a broad system of cybersecurity in an industry where it has been something of an afterthought up until recently.
Michael Chertoff, a former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and an expert on terrorism and cybersecurity, also told the conference that "security by design" is critical to protecting against cyberattacks. The threat of terrorists taking operational control of a vehicle without directly taking is critical in an era when the industry is moving closer to putting autonomous vehicles on the road.
There also are nation states, such as North Korea, Russia and China, to name three, that have used hacking to spy on the U.S. or to achieve specific objectives such as stealing trade secrets or technology.
In addition, the necessity for any industry or individual enterprise to safeguard the data gathered customers or users is also critical, Chertoff said. The recent experience of Facebook, which saw its stock value drop dramatically on Wall Street, underscored just how critical protecting data has become, Chertoff added.