Issues of cybersecurity in vehicles are high on consumers’ list of concerns in buying new vehicles. It also impacts public perception of self-driving cars, with a 2017 Cox Automotive survey finding 40% of consumers expressed hacking concerns as the biggest concern for self-driving cars. The concern is even greater outside of the United States, with 90% of consumers surveyed by Irdeto in Canada and the UK surveyed expressing concern over car hacking as a barrier to purchasing connected cars.

The automotive industry has taken note. At the recent Billington Global Automotive Cybersecurity Summit, public officials and executives from automotive companies came together to discuss preparing for and mitigating cybersecurity disruptions. Heidi King, the deputy administrator of NHTSA noted that consumer confidence and trust in the safety of connected vehicle technologies is a key issue in implementing new technologies in connected cars.

GM’s president Dan Amman reported at the Summit that in the coming weeks, GM is hosting an intensive session with professional researchers (some of them hackers) receiving payments if they find bugs and vulnerabilities in GM’s products. GM calls this program “Bug Bounty”, and said the program will continue for several weeks after the initial session.

GM is not the only company to publicly announce it pays researchers to hack into its products. HP is currently working with Bugcrowd and paying researchers to hack into its printers and identify vulnerabilities. Apple and other tech companies employ similar measures. However, GM is at the forefront of brining this technique into the automotive industry.  The increasing focus by consumer, regulators, and the auto industry on cybersecurity likely means these and similar measures will become more widespread in the automotive industry.