Attention auto dealerships: You’re never too small to be hacked!

Reputation. It means everything to your small dealership. It’s what gets people talking about your dealership, gets potential customers on your lot and helps close the sale. It’s also what you lose when you fall victim to cyber-attacks.

When a cyber-attack happens, it’s more than likely that the community will find out. When they do, they will worry if their information is safe with your dealership. The reputation you’ve gained over the years will deteriorate overnight. And it will be difficult to get it back.

While many dealerships think that their size prohibits them from being a target of cyber-attacks, nothing could be farther from the truth.  Smaller dealerships are typically bigger targets for cybercriminals because they are less likely to have implemented cybersecurity measures to protect themselves. And when it comes to cyber-attacks, most criminals are looking for scale, not size.  It’s as easy to send out 1000 emails as it is to send 1, and $10,000 ransoms from 10 companies is easier to get than a $100,000 ransom from one company.

But you don’t have to be helpless. There are a few simple steps you can take enhance your protection:

  • Patch management: patches come out frequently because new vulnerabilities are identified weekly. Ensure that your system is being patched regularly so you are protected. If you don’t know how often you’re patched, ask your IT provider for the reports for the last three months.
  • Firewall: a strong firewall can eliminate many of the incoming threats trying to get to your business through web and email traffic. Make sure you’ve installed one, that security settings are turned on, and that the firmware is up to date.
  • Training: your employees are your weakest link. Make sure that they know about social engineering and how it’s used to trick people into compromising your system. A quick video to show how social engineering works can be found here. Remember these to sayings:
    • Think before you click
    • When in doubt, call and find out
  • Backup and recovery: this one can’t be stressed enough. If your system is compromised, you need to ensure that you don’t lose days’, weeks’ or months’ worth of data. Find out how often your backups are happening, whether it’s automated, and where the data is stored (onsite or offsite).

By taking a few important precautions, your dealership can avoid losing its reputation the pitfalls of cyber-attacks and continue to grow because of a safe and secure IT environment.

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Aaron Welling