Much the same way you build walls and barriers to protect your physical inventory, you should also be concerned about protecting your network and digital information. While losing some wheels, or a vehicle can be costly, cybersecurity breaches can have more dire consequences.
A cybersecurity breach can cause the loss of customers and revenue, tarnish your reputation or brand, and expose you to expensive lawsuits and litigation. Fines, fees and penalties also loom over the head of organizations that do not adhere to baseline levels of cybersecurity.
With all of that in mind, here is a high level look at how to prevent cyber-attacks, and what to do if you are hit by one.
Assess the Risks and Formulate a Plan
Start by performing an objective analysis of your systems and processes. Your dealership IT team is probably qualified, but a third party with experience in dealership cybersecurity is recommended so as to avoid any bias.
Look for weak spots in your network and data security. Hire an expert to think like a hacker and focus on improving the weak points. Once you have a plan, put it into action and make evaluations a regular part of your internal audit processes.
Avoid Human Error
Cyber risks are not just a problem with technology. There is a lot of room for human error as a contributing factor. It all comes down to protecting information, and anyone with access to that information (employees, contractors, vendors, and even customers) must be responsible and accountable.
Establish a culture of cybersecurity awareness. Education is an important part of this awareness. A senior member of management should be assigned to oversee the cybersecurity training and awareness. All employees should regularly be made aware of the most current threats and attacks being used by criminals.
Be Prepared for the Worst
Despite the best of efforts, cybersecurity breaches are almost inevitable. It is important to plan your response in the event you are hit with an attack. A comprehensive and documented Incident Management Plan is designed to guide the dealership through a suspected security incident.
Roles and responsibilities should be defined, such as who will carry out key tasks like forensic investigation and legal response. Most states have requirements for reporting data security breaches. It is important that your team know who is responsible for this to avoid potential fines and penalties.
Commonly Overlooked Risks
Even with the best of planning, there are still risks that are often overlooked. Problems can arise from disparate IT systems when dealer groups merge, poorly configured personal devices used on the corporate network, and when services are integrated with third party vendors.
As mentioned before, hackers will find and exploit your systems weakest link, whatever it may be. It is important to know where all of these weak links are and work toward securing them.