Something new is coming to Detroit, but it is based on something that has been around for more than a century — the automobile.
The inaugural Automotive Cybersecurity Summit, which will be held in Detroit on July 22, 2016, was announced in a press release issued late last month: Top Auto and Government Officials to Speak at Inaugural Global Auto Cybersecurity Summit. Here’s a brief excerpt:
The centerpiece of this day-long summit will be the keynote addresses by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, the country’s top transportation official, and GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra, the chief of the country’s largest automaker.
“With an expected 75% of new cars equipped with online capabilities by 2020, this summit comes at a crucial time,” said Thomas K. Billington, Chairman and Founder of Billington CyberSecurity and the conference host, which also produces the leading Fall summit on cybersecurity in the Nation’s Capital. “We are honored to help advance this important dialogue between senior government and industry automotive leaders.”
The event website lays the goals of the event:
Background on the Reasons for This Automotive Cybersecurity Event
Whenever people discuss smart cities, revolutionizing transportation or the wider Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity, the topic of autonomous (or self-driving) vehicles seems to rise to the top of the conversation. This is certainly an area where we all can relate to the opportunities and challenges at stake, since most of us drive cars and/or use public transportation.
The interconnectivity issues with mobile technology such as smartphones raise an even more immediate set of cybersecurity topics. The 60 Minutes video on car hacking in 2015 raised this topic to a front-page hot topic for consumers all over the world.
At the same time, I am encouraged by the fact that events such as this new cybersecurity summit will address specific areas of concern. The fact that the top CxOs in the industry will be attending is an important step in building trust in this vital area.
This video from IMI in the United Kingdom discusses many of the benefits being promised by autonomous vehicles and a revolution in transportation technology.
This next video from 2015 offers a road map to self-driving cars from Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla. He discusses technology innovation, government’s role(s) and predictions about how things will develop. At the end of the conversation, cybersecurity is discussed in detail.
As I look at the agenda for this upcoming automotive cybersecurity summit, I am intrigued and encouraged by the diverse list of topics and speakers from top automakers (both domestic and international), government officials, hackers, high-tech companies and more. Unlike Elon Musk, I think that successfully transitioning to autonomous vehicles will not be "easy to achieve" for society. I see a long and sometimes perilous road ahead, full of traps that include legal hurdles, dangerous hackers trying to break new systems and technological breakthroughs needed in several areas. Most of all, we need to build societal trust and integrity into a transportation systems at a time when government leaders are seldom trusted.
I believe that this event may become a model for other sector-specific cybersecurity summits around the world. Whether the topic is banking, health care, public utilities or other critical infrastructure sectors, there is an urgent dialog that is needed regarding the right balance of functionality, business innovation and cyberprotections to move forward.
In addition, the action(s) of government are paramount in all of these discussions. In this automotive discussion, the public-sector role involves more than regulations and policy. From road signs to new roads to other infrastructure components, our transportation future is being laid out before our eyes. This is a good start.
I am excited to be participating in this important event that brings cybersecurity to the forefront of this vital topic. I urge government legislators, transportation officials, as well as private-sector security and technology professionals to consider attending.