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  • Writer's picturePhil Villegas

The Age of Security Breaches: What They Mean and How to Prevent Them

By Samantha Millard

You heard it on the news, you received notifications on your phone, you received mail letting you know you have a year of credit monitoring paid for, your Chrome is letting you know your password has been corrupted and you need to change it on sixteen different websites, but what does all this mean? In the last few days, at least eight companies have publicly announced they have had a data breach. A data breach is a nice way of placating the public, making it seem like information has been misplaced; but the reality is companies are under attack. Cyber-attack to be exact.

A recent ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline disrupted the disbursement of gasoline, resulting in gasoline shortages in multiple Southeastern states. The reality is most ransomware attacks are often not divulged to the public. Companies at large are suffering in silence and paying to keep their economic well-being intact.

Difference Between a Data Breach and Ransomware Attack:

· A data breach is information that is either copied or stolen to be used for financial gain or harm.

· A ransomware attack is when the hacker limits the victim’s access to information until a ransom is paid.

Dealerships, like other companies across the United States, are susceptible to ransomware attacks and data breaches.

Here are some tips to protect your operations:

- Revamp your data security practices.

It may be time reevaluate your data security practices, and if you are wondering what those are, it is time to get some. Data security practices should be established in writing and provided to every member of your staff. Data security should be a topic of conversation in all dealership departments and addressed regularly at meetings. Educate yourself and teach your staff the fundamentals of database technology, how sensitive data should be secured, and how information should be filed.

- Vet your vendors.

Are the vendors you work with taking care of their data? Ask them to provide their data security plans. The saying goes, you are only as strong as your weakest link and when it comes to data you are only as strong as one person’s firewall. If you are providing your vendors with sensitive information, it is your responsibility to ensure it is being handled properly.

- Limit access to data and get rid of what you do not need.

Not everyone needs to know everything, this includes the dealership itself. Your dealership should only be storing data that is deemed imperative. Hoarding unnecessary data is a potential security threat. Less is more when it comes to data liability.

- Do not fear inconvenience.

Learning to protect your data can be tiresome. Yet the reality is, many data safety measures come at little additional cost. The biggest complaint received is that companies do not want to have to go through extra steps to access their data. Having to enter a couple of extra passwords and click a few extra buttons is worth not opening your business to potential litigation or worse.

The age of cyber threats is upon us, and it is time to take up the mantle and protect ourselves and the customers we love, that way we all can receive one less piece in the mail, hear one less news story, and change one less password.

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