Jun 20, 2016

Automotive Dealers Facing Cybersecurity Threats From Hackers

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Over the past several months, we have watched as many businesses and their data has been compromised due to lack of cybersecurity infrastructure and planning. In the past, we discussed protecting your small business from disasters. However, as hackers become more and more sophisticated, it is important to stay vigilant against cybersecurity threats. A new survey suggests some dealerships could be vulnerable to cyberattacks that endanger the personal information of their customers.

Such data breaches not only would prove an immediate business threat to dealerships, they also could result in spooked consumers never doing business with hacked stores again.

Total Dealer Compliance, a New York City auditing firm, surveyed 200 dealerships in five states to show the impact of data security on the sales and reputations of dealerships. TDC conducts security audits for all areas of dealerships. The survey found that nearly 84 percent of consumers would not buy another car from a dealership after their data had been compromised by a breach at the dealership.

Lack of confidence

The study also found that around 33 percent of consumers lack confidence in the security of their personal and financial data when buying a vehicle at a dealership.

Car dealerships can be prime locations for hackers looking for personal data. Dealerships, in some cases, could have more information on consumers than their local banks do. From a hacker's perspective, it's much easier to hack a dealership than a bank.

For example, service departments, which usually have Wi-Fi connections available for customers, as potential weak spots that hackers can exploit. If the Wi-Fi is not separate from the main network of a dealership, it would take a sophisticated hacker only six minutes to break into it.

It often takes a dealership much longer to discover the breach -- the average is 208 days.

Cash is one issue holding some stores back. Dedicated security personnel on staff can be an expensive prospect for smaller stores. Only 30 percent of the surveyed dealerships employ a network engineer with computer security certifications and training.

Out of date

Some stores can open themselves up to security failings by not being vigilant. For instance, TDC's survey found that more than 70 percent of dealerships are not up to date on their anti-virus software.

The majority of surveyed dealerships aren't confronting their weaknesses to see where improvement is needed, TDC concluded. The survey reported that only 25 percent of dealerships have hired third-party vendors to try to hack into their networks to test their vulnerability. Dealerships are under pressure to hit sales targets, so their primary focus is on delivering cars. This can lead to stores making mistakes.

At AWANE, we look for the best solutions to help our Members in all aspects of operating their businesses. Should you need direction in finding the right technology solutions whether it be cybersecurity or otherwise, please contact us at any time and we would be happy to help you navigate a complex marketplace to find the best solutions for you.

*Thanks to our friends at Automotive News for some great content for this piece.