Automotive Industry and Students Tackle Cyber Threats Together: Developing a Future Workforce

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October 10, 2018
Students are learning from industry leaders how to thwart security threats for automobiles, while at the same time the industry is grooming its future workforce.

At this year’s Auto-ISAC Annual Summit in Detroit (September 25-26), The Global Future Workforce Program was held to demonstrate the development of the next generation of cybersecurity specialists who will fill critical positions within the global auto industry.

An overwhelming number of companies were excited to offer internships and opportunity discussions with students who participated. One such discussion resulted in an actual job offer for a high school student by a notable cyber defense firm. 

Vicky Rad of the Michigan Automotive and Defense Cyber Awareness Team (MADCAT) said, “The ability to train and exercise alongside a company representative is extremely valuable and confirms to me that this is the career direction for me to pursue.”

Faye Francy, executive director of the Auto-ISAC, noted, “Detecting and preventing cybersecurity threats is at the forefront of the automotive industry and training our future workforce is essential.”

One of the key issues addressed during the Summit was how to build a cybersecurity team and develop a future workforce including programs, like The Global Future Workforce Program, ranging from high school, college and professional apprenticeship programs.

The strategic alliance of companies powering The Global Future Workforce Program includes The NEXT Education, GRIMM, GRIDSMART Technologies, Inc., Michigan Automotive and Defense Cyber Assurance Team (MADCAT), and NXP.

Elaina Farnsworth, CEO, The NEXT Education, the company who develops and manages the Global Future Workforce Program, stated, “We are empowered and committed to reaching as many students as possible.” She continued, “In addition, we applaud our corporate partners for their vision to support this program.”

Participants in the program were immersed in a live environment with demonstrations of in-vehicle and infrastructure cyber testing, illustration of career pathways and review of certification-based training. NXP Semiconductors demonstrated cybersecurity projects with students from the University of Michigan Dearborn and the University of Tulsa. GRIMM, a cyber automotive research firm, demonstrated their training and advanced capabilities in automotive cyber and penetration testing. The NEXT Education highlighted innovative certification programs and student work in self-driving vehicle programs. GRIDSMART Technologies, Inc. showcased infrastructure security and Intelligent Transportation Systems. Finally, MADCAT recruited K-12 student work from strategic career pathways for automotive/defense cybersecurity professionals.

Auto-ISAC was formed in July 2015 in a collective effort by the auto industry to establish a secure platform for sharing, tracking and analyzing intelligence about cyber threats and potential vulnerabilities. Auto-ISAC operates as a central hub that allows members to anonymously submit and receive information to help them more effectively counter cyber threats in real-time.

Currently, Auto-ISAC members account for more than 99 percent of light-duty vehicles on the road in North America. The Auto-ISAC members have developed a set of Best Practices Guidelines to address this evolving landscape and rising threat quickly. Auto-ISAC routinely conducts tabletop exercises to ensure that it is addressing what could be and how to mitigate this happening or at the very least, the impact of a hack. Through sharing, learning, and exercising best practices, the industry can address the threat and continue to build resilience.

Josh El'Chonen, Marketing, The NEXT Education
(248) 705-9533

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