Safeguarding Your Dealerships’ Passwords
By Anthony Valdelamar
In an age where the average person owns approximately 100 passwords to different accounts, what is the best way to keep safe and track of the passwords to the vital accounts for your dealership’s operations? There is no right or wrong answer to that question, especially since every business has its own unique needs and circumstances. Yet, we often see passwords retained in unsecured files or hand-written “sticky notes” openly displayed on a wall or corner of a computer monitor. These are situations where passwords may be easily compromised by an individual with malicious intent. However, there are common practices that can be implemented to mitigate the risk of a breach that could potentially compromise your dealerships’ sensitive data.
Starting at a more micro level, setting minimum character requirements and the requirement of changing of passwords frequently will help make it more difficult for an infiltrator to gain access to your data. However, the safekeeping of so many changing passwords can be quite a tedious or bothersome task for a company to perform regularly.
Dealership management might assume they will only need to memorize two or three passwords such as the DMS and manufacturer portal. On the contrary, a dealership needs to keep track of and secure many passwords of software and websites in support of its infrastructure and administrative functions, such as:
One of the best ways to manage and safeguard all the business’ accounts is to keep a secure repository of passwords that will sync seamlessly and only a select few personnel has exclusive administrative access. A password repository will help save management from losing access to important accounts in the event of an emergency or non-returning key personnel. A business may feel tempted to keep their repository of passwords in an Excel file locked by a password. Despite the inexpensiveness and accessibility, this can potentially bring a significant security risk to the dealership and a data entry burden to those who must manually change accounts for updated passwords. According to Microsoft, there is no service to recover contents of a protected Excel file if the password is lost or forgotten.
Implementation of a password management solution is becoming more commonplace and allows the IT team and management to enforce strict controls over the passwords and data of an organization. A password manager uses advanced encryption technology to protect your data and passwords from a looming cyber terrorist threat. As an enterprise, you can either opt to store your passwords remotely on a company’s servers, or locally stored in office if you prefer not to store passwords with a third-party.
There is no single best password manager and IT experts have not yet reached a consensus, but popular password managers include RoboForm, Keepass, and Dashlane for example. These solutions offer a multitude of administrative controls that can reduce exposing your dealership’s data and access credentials to risk. These types of programs also provide numerous advantages, such as multi-factor authorization, automatic syncing, and end-to-end encryption that you would not find using an Excel spreadsheet as a password repository. There are free and paid subscription models available for this type of software, and some companies even offer deal packages for organizations and businesses.
There are no one-size fits all solutions to password management because all businesses have different needs. However, implementing common password controls can protect your sensitive customer and enterprise data from the rising threat of cyber-attacks and help prevent the inability of authorized users to access the data if the password cannot be recovered. Password management should be taken seriously because the effects of a security breach can cost your dealership many hours, millions of dollars, and even its reputation. We recommend consulting with your IT specialists on choosing the right repository of passwords to meet your dealership’s needs.