Guarding the Showroom: Five Essential Cybersecurity Strategies for Car Dealerships

Five Essential Cybersecurity Strategies for Car Dealerships

First published on
June 26, 2024
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Christopher Schouten

Christopher Schouten

Marketing Director

Christopher Schouten is Marketing Director for Kudelski IoT (SIX:KUD.S) and has worked for more than 20 years for companies whose mission is to protect devices, data and high-value business models, making him an expert in embedded security strategy. He joined Kudelski Group in 2013, and prior to that he held various marketing and operational management roles in pay-TV security and mobile and fixed telecommunications in the U.S., The Netherlands and Switzerland. He is now based in Phoenix Arizona. Christopher is an honors graduate of the University of Iowa, having studied Mass Communications and Linguistics. Christopher speaks six languages and is a passionate early adopter of IoT and smart home technologies.

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In recent times, car dealerships have increasingly become targets for cyberattacks. These attacks can cripple operations, disrupt sales, and compromise sensitive customer information. Major software service providers in the auto industry have also faced outages due to cyberattacks, causing widespread chaos and highlighting the urgent need for robust cybersecurity measures. To help dealerships safeguard their operations, we reached out to RecovR's sister company, Kudelski Security, for expert advice. Here are five practical strategies they recommend for preventing cyberattacks on dealerships.

1. Implement Strong Access Controls

Access control is a fundamental aspect of cybersecurity. It involves regulating who can access your systems and data, ensuring that only authorized personnel have access to sensitive information. Here’s how dealerships can implement strong access controls:

  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): MFA requires users to provide two or more verification factors to gain access to a system. This could be something they know (password), something they have (a security token), or something they are (biometric verification). Implementing MFA adds an extra layer of security and makes it harder for unauthorized users to breach your systems.
  • Role-Based Access Control (RBAC): Assign access permissions based on roles within the dealership. For example, sales staff might need access to customer relationship management (CRM) systems, while financial staff need access to accounting software. Limiting access based on job roles minimizes the risk of data breaches.
  • Regular Audits: Conduct regular audits of access logs to detect any unusual or unauthorized access attempts. This proactive measure helps identify potential security breaches before they cause significant damage.

2. Ensure Regular Software Updates and Patch Management

Keeping software and systems up to date is critical in protecting against cyber threats. Cybercriminals often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain access to systems. Here are some best practices for effective patch management:

  • Automated Updates: Enable automatic updates for all software and systems where possible. This ensures that critical security patches are applied promptly without relying on manual intervention.
  • Patch Management Policy: Develop and enforce a patch management policy that outlines the process for identifying, testing, and deploying patches. This policy should include a schedule for regular updates and procedures for emergency patching when critical vulnerabilities are discovered.
  • Vulnerability Scanning: Regularly scan your systems for vulnerabilities using automated tools. These scans can identify outdated software and potential security gaps, allowing you to address them before they are exploited.

3. Invest in Robust Endpoint Security

Endpoints, such as computers, mobile devices, and point-of-sale (POS) systems, are common targets for cyberattacks. Investing in robust endpoint security solutions can help protect these devices from threats. Consider the following measures:

  • Antivirus and Anti-Malware Software: Ensure all endpoints are equipped with reputable antivirus and anti-malware software. These tools can detect and neutralize malicious software before it can cause harm.
  • Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR): Implement EDR solutions that provide continuous monitoring and response capabilities. EDR tools can detect suspicious activity on endpoints and respond to threats in real-time, minimizing the potential impact of an attack.
  • Device Encryption: Encrypt sensitive data stored on endpoints to protect it in case of theft or unauthorized access. Encryption ensures that even if a device is compromised, the data remains unreadable without the proper decryption key.

4. Conduct Regular Employee Training

Employees are often the first line of defense against cyber threats. Regular training can help them recognize and respond to potential security risks. Here are some key components of effective cybersecurity training:

  • Phishing Awareness: Educate employees about phishing attacks and how to identify suspicious emails, links, and attachments. Provide examples of common phishing tactics and encourage staff to report any suspicious communications.
  • Password Hygiene: Promote good password practices, such as using strong, unique passwords for different accounts and changing passwords regularly. Encourage the use of password managers to securely store and manage passwords.
  • Incident Response: Train employees on the proper procedures for reporting and responding to security incidents. This includes identifying potential threats, reporting them to the IT team, and following protocols to contain and mitigate the impact of an attack.

5. Develop a Comprehensive Incident Response Plan

Despite the best preventative measures, it’s crucial to be prepared for the possibility of a cyberattack. A comprehensive incident response plan ensures that your dealership can quickly and effectively respond to security incidents. Here’s what to include in your plan:

  • Incident Identification: Establish procedures for detecting and identifying security incidents. This may involve monitoring systems for unusual activity, setting up alerts for potential threats, and conducting regular security assessments.
  • Cybersecurity Playbook: Establish a comprehensive guide designed to outline the steps and procedures for responding to various types of cyber threats. These playbooks are usually written for specific types of attacks, such as malware, denial of service, and ransomware, providing detailed guidelines on how to proceed in each case. This ensures that dealerships can swiftly and effectively mitigate threats, protecting their data and maintaining business continuity.
  • Containment and Eradication: Outline steps for containing the incident to prevent further damage and eradicating the threat from your systems. This may involve isolating affected devices, shutting down compromised systems, and removing malicious software.
  • Recovery: Detail the process for restoring systems and data to normal operations. This includes restoring from backups, conducting post-incident reviews, and implementing additional security measures to prevent future incidents.
  • Communication: Define roles and responsibilities for communicating with stakeholders during and after an incident. This includes informing employees, customers, and regulatory authorities as needed.


Just as protection from theft is a critical concern for car dealerships, so is cybersecurity. Dealerships hold sensitive customer data and rely on complex systems to operate efficiently. By implementing strong access controls, ensuring regular software updates, investing in robust endpoint security, conducting employee training, and developing a comprehensive incident response plan, dealerships can significantly reduce their risk of cyberattacks. Protecting your dealership from cyber threats not only safeguards your business operations but also builds trust with your customers, ensuring that your dealership can continue to thrive in both the physical and digital world.