Week 39: How Safe Is Your Car?

A car hacker, Big 3 cybersecurity officer and journalist walk onto the main stage at DAC…


In the age of increased connectivity, security is a major concern for all of us. Every few weeks seem to bring news of another massive breach, making it impossible not to be wary of the security threats we face every day when paying with our credit or debit cards online or in a store. There are so many examples that I’ve occasionally wondered whether I should go back to cash payments. For now I prefer the flexibility of carrying a card. And I don’t like the idea of wandering around with a large sum of cash, which presents a totally different safety concern than cybersecurity.

While the threats that come with card payments, smart phone apps, malware on our laptops and so on get most of the attention, car hacking is a concern as well considering the connectivity we now have in our automobiles. Maybe you saw this Feb. 6 piece on 60 Minutes? Or read news coverage of Sen. Ed Markey’s report declaring anti-hacker measures of the major car companies to be “inconsistent and haphazard”? Or watched a few of the car hacking videos on YouTube?

Freak you out just a little? Well, come and join us for the Wednesday keynote at DAC for a pretty unique experience—an onstage conversation between Jeff Massimilla, chief product cybersecurity officer at GM, and Craig Smith, founder of OpenGarages.org and author of the 2014 Car Hacker’s Handbook. The conversation will be moderated by Detroit auto news icon John McElroy, host of the news and analysis program Autoline Daily, which airs on public television and is available in various forms online.

The title of the Wednesday session is “Cyber Threats to Connected Cars: Staying Safe Requires More Than Following the Rules of the Road.”

Here’s the abstract: Cars increasingly are networked computing platforms, and with this burgeoning connectivity comes more vulnerability to possible cyber-attacks. We expect our vehicles to continue to evolve and support Internet capabilities via WiFi and cellular data networks, connect to our mobile computing platforms via Bluetooth, provide GPS navigation assistance, and automatically link to the manufacturer to help with diagnostics. However, all those connectivity features create entry point for hackers. Can we make our cars more secure? Or should we accept the fact that they are as vulnerable as our computers at home? Come hear from the real experts on stage. John McElroy, Producer of Autoline Detroit will guide you through an in-depth chat between Jeffrey Massimilla, Chief of Cybersecurity at GM, and Craig Smith, author of the Car Hacker Manual.

You are in for a real treat with this rather unique keynote and I hope to see you there. Don’t forget, early registration will open this month on March 26.

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