Aura is a digital services platform providing security solutions for internet users across the world. The company was founded by CEO Hari Ravichandran after his own information was stolen online. Finding few resources to help him re-secure his online presence, Ravichandran was inspired to create an all-encompassing platform addressing every aspect of web safety, from antivirus applications to account tracking and password management. Aura’s board of directors also features a familiar and well-respected face: Jeffrey Katzenberg. Katzenberg is well known to entrepreneurs for his impressive history as co-founder of consumer technology firm WndrCo. However, the general public may know him better as a former chairman of Walt Disney and cofounder of Dreamworks Studios. To discuss the importance of digital security to the auto industry, Ravichandran and Katzenberg sit down with host Jim Fitzpatrick on Inside Automotive.
In 2014, Ravichandran’s identity was stolen online. In the aftermath, he was struck by the limitations of available digital security platforms, noting that companies failed to offer comprehensive security solutions. A consumer would have to employ multiple brands to stay fully protected from threats. Aura was founded to bring all aspects of online security under one umbrella, by offering a protection package addressing all threats web users can encounter. Since its founding in 2019, the company has helped consumers and businesses avoid scams, fraud, and theft. Earlier this year, Katzenberg predicted the company was on track to hit $300 million in revenue.
Katzenberg, on the other hand, became interested in Aura after watching the world change in the wake of the digital revolution. The entrepreneur witnessed the public come to rely more and more on internet access. While communication and collaboration are easier than ever, Katzenberg notes that security often remains an afterthought to innovations, putting families and businesses at risk. Even vehicles are vulnerable to cyber attacks, and as new technologies like autonomous driving are made available the risks will only increase. The public needs a solution that can keep ahead of technological developments, and the entrepreneur believes Aura is the best on the market. “If you can do good while doing good, that’s good,” quips the investor, expressing his support for the platform’s mission.
Aura’s platform has special relevance for automakers and dealerships. The auto industry has been forced to migrate its services online to stay competitive. However, since many companies are new to the digital world, they are often unfamiliar with just how hostile the online environment can be. Increased accessibility unfortunately means more risks; as Ravichandran notes, “Now we’re losing more money to digital crime than we are to home burglary.” According to the entrepreneur, auto-lending fraud alone cost U.S. dealers and automakers $7.7 billion in 2021.
Dealership operations are further disrupted by hackers taking advantage of poor internet security practices. The CEO notes that 90% of dealer breaches are the result of employee error, causing them to come into contact with, on average, 153 viruses and 84 spam emails a day. Yet another consideration for dealerships to weigh are the FTC’s red flag laws. These regulations require businesses working with financing and insurance, especially those dealing with credit card information, to have security measures in place to protect their consumers. To stay compliant with federal rules, dealerships must grow accustomed to the digital landscape.
However, the victims of online auto fraud aren’t confined to the industry. Consumers can have their data exposed as a result of poor security practices, resulting in lawsuits and loss of trust in dealerships. Ravichandran and Katzenberg both encourage dealerships to take a proactive stance in protecting their data. Advanced device security, identity theft protection, credit fraud prevention and more are services companies can no longer afford to miss.
Crime has advanced from traditional break-ins or thefts, and the tools used to defraud businesses have grown increasingly complex. Auto retailers can avoid headaches and losses by keeping digital security at the forefront of their minds as they expand their services. Aura is an excellent place to start, especially for dealers who feel out of their depth in an increasingly online world.