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Auto industry plans 'forward leaning' approach as Trump sets cyber priorities

Release Date:2017-02-02

January 26, 2017 |

Joshua Higgins

The automotive industry will likely continue building out its information sharing and analysis center as a key piece of its overall cybersecurity strategy, while seeking opportunities to work with the new Trump administration on setting policy priorities for securing automobiles from cyber threats, according to industry sources.

One auto industry source told Inside Cybersecurity that the next step is to meet with new administration officials to determine their priorities and start mapping a path forward on government-industry collaboration.

“Working constructively with policymakers is an essential part of success,” the source told Inside Cybersecurity. “Still, I think you'll continue to see a forward leaning industry that's moving fast – that's largely what drove our creation of the ISAC.”

The source noted that the automotive ISAC will likely continue to evolve and develop in order to “remain at the forefront of these issues” and represent the industry on the issue of cybersecurity.

The auto industry has been building up its ISAC capabilities in recent months.

In November, the automotive ISAC announced a partnership with the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions to foster a cross-industry dialogue between the auto and communications sectors on improving cybersecurity of connected cars.

The ISAC has also been filling in the details of cybersecurity best practices for automobiles, after issuing an executive summary of best practices last July.

The industry source told Inside Cybersecurity that automakers do not yet have a good assessment of the “state of play” for automotive cybersecurity under the new administration.

Executives from automotive companies met with President Trump at the White House this week to discuss policy affecting the industry, though it is unclear if cybersecurity policy was among the issues discussed. General Motors CEO Mary Barra, who last year called on the auto industry to make cybersecurity a priority during an automotive cybersecurity summit in Detroit, participated in the White House meeting.

Industry groups have also praised Trump's selection of Elaine Chao to lead the Department of Transportation, arguing that she could help push forward efforts to roll out autonomous vehicles to consumers.

“Elaine Chao is a superb choice to lead the Department of Transportation,” the Association of Global Automakers said in a statement in December. “The combination of her prior Cabinet experience, her specific knowledge of DOT and her extensive policy background makes her a uniquely qualified nominee who can literally hit the ground running.”

The Global Automakers noted that Chao will have to find regulatory approaches that can keep pace with innovation, especially for autonomous vehicles.

“We all have a common interest – and that is maximizing the rate of innovation in the technologies that save lives, avoid crashes, and improve fuel economy,” the Global Automakers stated. “A key question for the new Secretary will address is how best to make sure these innovations can get to market quickly, safely, and affordably.”

Chao's nomination has cleared the Senate Commerce Committee and awaits a floor vote.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an agency within DOT, has already acknowledged the need for cybersecurity controls for connected and self-driving cars. NHTSA has issued a policy on autonomous vehicles outlining strategies for cybersecurity, in addition to a broader guide of cybersecurity best practices for all connected automobiles.

And on Capitol Hill, the Senate Commerce Committee has said automotive cyber issues would likely be a priority for the panel this year. – Joshua Higgins (jhiggins@iwpnews.com)

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