[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]ou know there’s a lot to be thankful for when almost every conversation with one of your dealer partners starts with, “Hey CJ …” Having the type of relationship where you’re on a first-name basis is crucial in small industries, and ours is a perfect example of that.
With those valued partnerships in mind, I want to offer you what, in my mind, is the ultimate holiday gift: advice for you and your dealership on data protection. Yeah, I know that sounds as exciting as getting a polka dot tie from your kid. But consider this: The security of data has become a national and international headache. A recent online report shows that more than 40 percent of us have had our personal records exposed. Politicians are in near panic mode over this, with 32 of our state legislatures earlier this year considering bills to enhance or amend state laws on data protection.
Call it cyber attacks or data breaches or whatever you like, but this stuff is scary. One online report said the average cost per stolen record was $150-$200. That’s per record! Can you imagine if you had a couple hundred or couple thousand records stolen from your system? It could mean the end of a dealership. But I’m not here to scare you. I’m here to reassure you we can do something about this.
Here’s where to start: Your store.
Here are four practical tips on protecting your store against cyber attacks:
No. 1 – Limit who can access what.
Does your parts counter staffer need access to anything outside their department? In smaller shops, probably so. How about yours? It’s definitely something to consider. Some dealership management platform have taken this a step further by giving dealers the ability to limit where and when their staff can access data. Some DMS systems now only allow staff to access dealership data when they are in the store, not from outside networks.
No. 2 – Limit the number of applications your employees can run from your computers.
This can help your security by keeping out unwanted applications.
No. 3 – Routinely update your software.
Some DMS software, such as DX1, will do the updating for you. You would probably rather spend your time selling and stocking, not acting as an IT specialist.
No. 4 – Consider purchasing spyware or antivirus software for your systems.
Even if you already have antivirus software, consider hiring a local IT company to “sweep” your network once a quarter. This sweeping should entail checking your computers for viruses and ensuring nothing is installed on your systems that shouldn’t be there.
After you’ve done all that, repeat. This is not a one-and-done situation. This is a part of doing business today. It’s unfortunate, but it’s reality, and it’s happening in every retail sector. The well-publicized breach of Target’s computer systems that impacted as many as 70 million people highlighted the importance of maintaining data security.
[pullquote]“Call it cyber attacks or data breaches or whatever you like, but this stuff is scary. One online report said the average cost per stolen record was $150-$200. That’s per record!”[/pullquote]
What else can you do?
Have a dialogue with your dealer management system provider about what steps they’re taking to ensure the safety of your data. At DX1, we not only installed our own security encryptions but also partnered with software giant Microsoft. The reason? We can take advantage of their database security and system protocols to provide further security measures for dealership data. Plus, the Microsoft system enhances our ability to monitor the dealer’s data and ensure the appropriate people in the dealership are getting access to it.
Let’s face it, data protection has become the modern-day auto insurance. You hate spending money on it because you can think of a zillion different things you would rather splurge on. But if you don’t spend time and money on it … you could be in trouble. Big trouble!
And at a cost of $150-$200 per record stolen, we can’t afford that type of trouble.
Complete the measures outlined above and your dealership will be that much more protected against cyber attacks. Plus, it will give you peace of mind this holiday season, not to mention it gives us a better chance of continuing to have those daily discussions, “Hey CJ …”
CJ Pedler is director of customer support for Dominion Powersports Solutions, the provider of DX1 Powersports, the industry’s only dealer management platform with operational and marketing applications including inventory management, accounting, lead management, mobile-responsive websites, online marketing, email marketing, and social media. He can be reached at [email protected] dominionpowersports.com.