Connected Mobility and Infrastructure are taking Detroit by storm; timing is critical for adopting strong security practices at this nascent point in the technology and the industry. With her background in cybersecurity and autonomous vehicles, Jennifer Tisdale is the ideal leader to drive GRIMM’s engagement with automotive industry Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), suppliers, and industry stakeholders to ensure that cybersecurity initiatives are integrated into the future of mobility and smart city infrastructure.
Jennifer has some truly unique experience that gives her valuable insight into this emerging space. She previously served as the Cybersecurity Strategy Advisor for Mazda North America and as the Cyber-Mobility Program Manager for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
Now, Jennifer joins GRIMM as our Director of Connected Mobility and Infrastructure. Her mission is to advocate for the role of the cyber-researcher, help raise the priority of cybersecurity, and encourage integration of best practices into the ongoing operations of manufacturers and their supply chains.
While connected mobility may feel far away, it’s not. Within a few years, smart autonomous vehicles will be present on connected infrastructure—roadways, bridges and tunnels— creating new points of cyber vulnerability. While the companies building this future do incorporate basic cybersecurity into their development processes, such as pen testing or vulnerability disclosure programs, the effort is not yet at the right level of understanding, commitment or investment. These pioneers are still resistant to the necessarily level of rigorous security research for several reasons.
Semantics is one. Both automotive corporate leaders and the vehicle-buying public generally associate “hackers” with criminal activity. They don’t understand the value of deeply technical good guys—who Jennifer describes as “curious minds who think differently”— in thoroughly vetting the vulnerabilities of new technologies. She notes that “This presents a great opportunity for us to educate the automotive community about the importance of integrating security into development and design. There is also an extreme need for education geared toward consumers to explain why security hackers are a good thing.”
Another reason for resistance is the skill set of automotive engineers who have not traditionally studied information technology or cybersecurity. The change to connected mobility is happening so fast that many of these valued workers simply need more structured training to keep up. The companies competing in this emerging space can’t wait for their employees to pursue multi-year degree programs. They need help now, but don’t know where to get it.
Policy is another hurdle. While city and state governments are starting to invest public funds into connected infrastructure, little is being done about related security. Jennifer’s background working with state and federal agencies enables her to translate technical issues into the business case perspective that policy makers need to support sound decision-making. She’s excited about changing the narrative.
As she takes on this ambitious new role with GRIMM, Jennifer continues to serve as the Cyber-Mobility advisor on the Michigan Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Board of Directors. She is an advocate for security integration in smart city and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) design, building a cybersecurity community of interest, and often speaking on changing the perception of “hackers” from nuisance to necessity.
GRIMM Founder and Chairman Bryson Bort notes, “We’re incredibly grateful to have Jennifer on our team. She brings unparalleled expertise in the automotive, aerospace and drone industries, and will be a valuable asset in transforming the way organizations in the automotive space view cybersecurity.”