Identity theft associated with auto loans and leases increased 43 percent in the last year. In fact, security researchers recently discovered an unsecure online database with vehicle, sales and customer information on 10 million cars sold in the U.S.
From Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) to payment information, car dealerships house extremely sensitive data that can be of high value to thieves. Below, we explain how to protect sensitive information at your car dealership.
Keep Cyber Security a Top Priority
Car dealerships hold an immense amount of valuable data, including:
- Customer information: Full name, address, phone numbers, emails, birthdates, social security numbers and employment details.
- Sales data: Payment type, purchase price, payment plan details and income information.
- Vehicle details: Make, model, VIN, year, color and mileage.
Since most of this information is now stored digitally, cyber security is a must. Consider the following practices:
- Conduct a cyber threat assessment. Do a thorough review of your network assets, like network performance metrics and malware monitoring, determining where weaknesses lie. Evaluate your needs to find a solution that’s just right for your dealership.
- Secure Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Car dealerships often use tablets and computers to access, share and store information. Limit your risk of a data breach by conducting regular audits of all IoT devices.
- Update software and electronic devices. Regularly updating anti-virus software and device software will make it harder for cyber criminals to penetrate your network and steal consumer and employee records.
- Encrypt critical data to ensure protection from third-party access.
- Keep non-critical functions, such as guest Wi-Fi, on a separate network. If there is a breach at your dealership, your business data won’t be affected.
- Install firewalls and anti-virus software. This adds an extra layer of protection to employee data. Work with your IT team to protect your network from a data breach.
- Implement policies, and hold everyone accountable. Create cyber security policies for your dealership and your employees. Include guidelines on password strength, remote work and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) options. This establishes a culture of cyber safety at your car dealership.
Implement Physical Security Safeguards
In addition to cyber security controls, physical safeguards should also be a top concern. This means installing security equipment, such as:
- Surveillance cameras to help you monitor all aspects of your business, including employees, customers and inventory.
- Monitored alarms that will notify you and the authorities the minute a break-in occurs.
- Access control technology will help you limit access to certain areas of your dealership. This can include offices, storage rooms or other areas where you keep sensitive assets.
- Window/door sensors that will trigger audible and visual alarms in the event of a break in.
- Indoor and outdoor lights can help keep your employees and customers safe during nighttime hours, as well as thwart off intruders by uncovering dark hiding spaces outside your dealership.
Use the cyber practices and equipment outlined here to help keep your dealership information secure. Additionally, always work with a trusted security vendor to find a solution that fits all aspects of your dealership.