GM hires first-ever cybersecurity chief as data, connectivity drive new vehicle features

24 September 2014, 8:45 am EDT By Judy Mottl Tech Times
GM, which has had to deal with the largest recall in its history this year, is promoting a company leader into the new role. It's all about ensuring that critical tech systems being developed will work without a glitch and that car driver data will be secure. Jeffrey Massimilla, shown here at a GM event, is the carmaker's first-ever cybersecurity leader.  ( GM )

A top U.S. carmaker is hiring on its first-ever cybersecurity leader as data and technology systems take deeper root within automotive design and engineering.

General Motors' new cybersecurity executive is Jeffrey Massimilla, whose formal title is chief product cybersecurity officer. Prior to the newly-recreated role he served as GM's director of global validation and as an engineering group manager.

The role is directly related to all the new technology, wireless networking and data being used for new car functions and features. Such data, like any data, will soon become a target for hackers and malicious malware creators, note industry watchers.

"If you look at the technology, as we put semiautonomous and autonomous systems into vehicles ... we have to be able to look at this at a very, very critical systems level and do it defect-free for the customer," said Mark Reuss, GM's executive vice president for global product development. "That's the kind of competitive advantage we're trying really to put into place for GM."

Reuss said the carmaker spent time talking with leading companies, and even military organizations such as the Navy, to define the cybersecurity chief role and determine what skills are required.

Massimilla began his new role the first week in September.

Many upcoming GM vehicles are expected to feature more expansive connectivity, including embedded 4G LTE mobile Wi-Fi hotspots.

The news comes on the heels of what had to be one of the worst times for GM given the number of vehicle recalls over the past several months.

The GM recall wave involved ignition switches, height adjusters, power steering and other problems and led to the largest amount of vehicles ever recalled by the company, as was reported in a recent Tech Times article. Almost 30 million cars were involved in those recalls, and more than 700,000 vehicles needed repairs.

Just a little over a week ago GM issued a "stop delivery" order on one of its best-selling cars of the year, the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette, over two specific issues that GM is looking to address, specifically in the brakes and airbags of the vehicles.

In early August the carmaker also came under deeper scrutiny when a website to help car owners deal with recall information wasn't working properly.


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