DETROIT -- General Motors hired its first product cybersecurity chief in a move designed to address the growing challenge of providing safe, secure and reliable technology in vehicles.
Jeffrey Massimilla was named chief product cybersecurity officer on Sept. 2. He had been GM’s director of global validation and an engineering group manager for the automaker, GM spokeswoman Jennifer Ecclestone said.
He will report to Ken Morris, GM’s vice president for global product integrity.
The increasing use of computers and wireless networks to deliver and control light-vehicle functions, as well as the advent of autonomous cars, has government regulators and industry officials doubling down on efforts to prevent, for example, hackers from disabling a vehicle or hijacking a pickup remotely.
The new position was necessary as GM has “done a really ground-up reorganization and fundamental change in the way we design and engineer products,” said Mark Reuss, GM’s executive vice president for global product development.
GM went to the Navy, Virginia Tech and Boeing Corp. to learn about hiring a cybersecurity chief, Reuss said. GM looked at how vehicle systems and emerging car technology reacted to each other, he said.
“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,” Reuss said. “That’s the kind of competitive advantage we’re trying really to put into place for GM.”
Reuss disclosed Massimilla’s new role at an event in Detroit Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier.