In a corporate move that’s likely to set an important precedent for businesses across industrial sectors, General Motors has chosen to appoint a cybersecurity officer, the first post of its kind at the company, according to Fortune. The appointee, Jeffrey Massimilla, will be charged with protecting the computers that help to power the company’s cars.

Appointment Comes Amid Elevated Cyberthreat Landscape

It almost goes without saying that the move to appoint a cybersecurity executive is very much rooted in current events. With new malicious incursions cropping up everyday, there’s daily evidence to prove that no company is impervious to a cyberattack.

Massimilla’s job will be a special one. His task is not to oversee the security of computers within, say, a GM office, but instead to regulate the integrity of the computing technology that powers the business’ new smart cars, according to IEEE spectrum. And when it comes to smart cars, maintaining security is absolutely vital.

As Roger Berg, vice president for wireless technologies at Denso, put it at a talk in the motor city recently, “With connectivity comes responsibility. It opens you to attack.”

Berg’s statement holds particularly true for connected cars. Just picture this scenario: A smart car is driving down a busy road at rush hour. The driver and car’s intelligence system are working perfectly harmoniously, until all of a sudden an outside hacker commandeers the car’s computer system. In an instant, the car’s driver is now at the mercy of a criminal, operating remotely.

This scenario is definitely a scary one to consider, but it’s something that experts feel can be circumvented as long as the proper security measures are taken with regard to smart roads.

With GM planning on debuting automated driving to its customers in 2016, the time is not far off when cars will be cruising down the street operated by a computer system instead of a person. That’s all well and good – as long as the system doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

To that end, it’s important that all auto manufacturers consider the vitality of information security when it comes to regulating smart cars. With suitable security, automated driving can become what it was intended to be – a safe and convenient practice.

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