Federal regulators issued the first-ever guidelines to protect cars from hacking, reinforcing their view that cybersecurity is an important part of auto safety.

The suggested best practices for automakers include ways to design cars so that drivers can "take appropriate and safe actions, even when an attack is successful," the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.

The guidelines call for protection of critical vehicle controls and consumers' personal data. They also say that companies should consider the full life cycle of their vehicles and facilitate rapid response and recovery from cybersecurity incidents.

Automakers should make cybersecurity a top priority, NHTSA said. They should should allocate "appropriate and dedicated resources" and enable "seamless and direct communication channels through organizational ranks" to ensure an effective response to hacking threats.

"In the constantly changing environment of technology and cybersecurity, no single or static approach is sufficient," said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. "Everyone involved must keep moving, adapting, and improving to stay ahead of the bad guys."

Car hacking was in the spotlight last year when hackers were able to take control of a Jeep on a public highway via a remote laptop—playing with the air conditioning, radio, windshield wipers, and transmission.

Fiat Chrysler later initiated a safety recall to enhance the SUVs' cybersecurity, the first time a hacking vulnerability was declared a defect.

The auto industry has also been ramping up efforts to make cars cybersafe, which includes the establishment of the Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Center in 2015.

"We look forward to working with NHTSA and the industry at large to achieve our mutual goals," said Rebecca White, a cybersecurity spokeswoman for General Motors. "GM's commitment to protecting the safety and security of our customers remains unwavering."