General Motors wants its customers to have faith in the cellular communications capabilities in its new vehicles, so it has hired a watchdog to maintain mobile system security and guide the company into the future.
GM's first-ever product cyber-security chief will now help the automaker tighten mobile security for drivers and owners of its mobile-connected cars and trucks.
Jeffrey Massimilla, who formerly was an engineering group manager for infotainment at GM, has been brought in to the new post as part of a reorganization of GM's engineering operations, according to a Sept. 23 report by The Detroit News. The announcement was made by Mark Reuss, GM's executive vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain, at an automotive conference in Detroit, the paper reported.
Massimilla has already begun his role, to help protect new vehicle technology and users from hackers, according to the story.
"As we put semi-autonomous and autonomous systems in the 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 at the conference, the paper reported.
A General Motors spokesperson confirmed the appointment in a Sept. 24 phone call with eWEEK, but declined to comment further about the new post and how it will be used to pursue tighter mobile security protections in the company's vehicles.
More and more GM vehicles have been receiving cellular and other capabilities that allow drivers to operate smartphones and other devices hands-free or to use built-in vehicle systems for personal communications.
With AT&T, drivers of GM vehicles, including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC, can get cellular service through their vehicles, according to a recent eWEEK report. In May 2014, AT&T added General Motors to its growing list of vehicle makers that are including connected services in their cars and trucks, eWEEK reported. Under that deal, the 2015 Chevrolet Malibu will be the first LTE-equipped vehicle, followed by more than 30 other Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles by the end of year, according to GM.
The LTE-enabled GM vehicles will be able to act like a WiFi hotspot, offering connectivity to up to seven devices, as well as access to OnStar, which has evolved well beyond the emergency service that was most drivers' first experience with in-car connectivity.
For GM vehicle owners who aren't AT&T subscribers, GM also unveiled its own pricing for monthly and one-time access to AT&T's LTE network.
According to GM, an OnStar Basic Plan will come standard for five years in most 2015 model Chevrolet, Buick, GM and Cadillac vehicles with OnStar hardware; six months of OnStar Directions & Connections service will also come standard. Certain leasing programs, and vehicles, may extend the OnStar trial periods.