Researchers and experts are increasingly sounding the alarm over the auto industry’s vulnerability to cybersecurity threats, which can place business operations and sensitive consumer information at risk.
With the sudden proliferation of internet technology in automotive retail, dealers have been forced to play catch up with other industries who already know how to protect their data. Their consequential lack of familiarity with safety protocols and outdated technology make car retailers especially vulnerable. Data breaches can also arise from poor training or oversight, as AT&T’s head of cybersecurity evangelism explained, “Employees in a car dealership may have lax security hygiene which means it’s even easier for adversaries to launch attacks.”
However, storefronts are not the only ones affected by poor security. Original equipment manufacturers are also frequently exposed to data breaches. Earlier this week, it was revealed that Toyota patched a vulnerability in its software after a researcher named Eaton Zveare discovered a major security flaw last November which could have given hackers access to sensitive corporate information. The automaker only learned of the issue when Zveare warned them of the breach, emphasizing the reality that cyberattacks are much easier to prevent than stop. Vulnerabilities have also been found in systems used by Ford, Honda and Mercedes-Benz as recently as last month.
According to CDK Global’s cyberattack case study, published last October, 15% percent of dealers were exposed to cyberattacks in some form, many of which came with financial consequences for their businesses. Although a new set of security rules developed by the Federal Trade Commission to protect both companies and clients is set to arrive later this year, there is no guarantee that auto retailers will be fully protected from cybersecurity threats without better equipment, training and education.
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