General Motors CEO Mary Barra emphasized at the RSA security conference this week that development of robust cybersecurity technologies for the automotive sector is a crucial factor in the industry-wide push toward autonomous driving technologies and eventually fully self-driving vehicles.

In remarks at the conference on Feb. 27, Barra said GM’s long-term vision – over the next 20 years or so – is focused on vehicles that are electrically powered, self-driving, and fully connected to and with technology.

Kick off the start of spring at MeriTalk’s next Cyber Smoke. Learn More

One of the big payoffs to self-driving vehicles, she said, is the opportunity to “virtually eliminate” crashes and accidents, and thus “save millions of lives around the planet.” Others include reducing harmful vehicle emissions, and easing traffic congestion problems.

Cybersecurity, Barra said, is a “systemic concern” for the entire auto industry as it moves to autonomous driving technologies.

She said GM is focused on developing and supporting “industry-wide solutions” for security, and like other vehicle makers is working with the Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Center to share intelligence on cyber risks to vehicles and collectively improve security capabilities across the industry.

Central to GM’s focus, she said, is making sure that customer data is “always safe, secure, and private.”

GM, Barra said, is prioritizing “strong security measures in every phase of development.” The company’s cybersecurity operations now employ about 500 people, including some that serve in the role of hackers in order to test systems, she said.

Given the importance of consumer safety and trust in the adoption of autonomous systems, “we can never be complacent…and we are always looking for ways to improve,” Barr said.

She added, “When criminals only have to be effective once, we have to get it right 100 percent of the time.”

Read More About
More Topics
Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.