Auto Dealers Suffer Cyberattack, Ransom Demand

More than 15,000 automotive dealers nationwide are reeling from a cyberattack beginning last week that includes a demand from an Eastern European cybercrime group for ransom.

“A group that says they hacked software company CDK Global is demanding tens of millions of dollars in ransom,” according to Bloomberg. “CDK, which provides software to car dealerships in North America, intends to pay the ransom but discussions are subject to change.”



CDK provides software-as-a-service, technology that is used throughout dealerships. 

“That includes front-end sales and back-end payroll,” according to Headlight News. “Dealerships report they have lost access to ‘paperwork’ for customers negotiating a vehicle purchase. Service departments have, in many cases, been unable to access scheduling.” 

Dealerships that use Reynolds software are not affected by the attack, at least not yet. 

Consumers need to be aware of a greater potential for identity theft. 

Cliff Steinhauer, director of information security engagement for the National Cybersecurity Alliance, which is based in Washington, D.C., said that the situation "doesn’t look good," and he warned that anyone who has purchased or leased a car could be targeted for identity theft now, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“People should be looking after their credit, checking their reports, locking their credit if possible,” Steinhauer says. “I could see enrolling in identity-theft monitoring and insurance. Be vigilant for phishing messages. What will happen when attackers gain a portion of your sensitive data, they may need another thing, like your dog’s name, because they want to reset your password. They will call or text or email and try to get you to respond to give them data they are missing. You want to watch out for phishing attacks.”

Some dealers have reverted to manual paperwork as CDK Global works to restore systems, which will take several days, according to Reuters

“Thad Szott, whose family owns dealerships in Michigan, said at least 50% of the dealers nationwide, whether they sell new or used cars, are struggling with the situation,” according to to the Detroit Free Press. “Early Friday, Szott held an hourlong call with his dealership team to figure out how to process sales and run the company the old-fashioned way — with paper. That means taking documents to the Secretary of State in person to process license plates, for example.”

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