July 17th, 2024

Car dealerships face scam attempts after cyberattack-related outage

By The Canadian Press on June 24, 2024.

Auto retailers across North America continue to struggle with disruptions that started last week from cyberattacks on a software company used widely in the auto dealership sector. SUVs for sale are seen at an auto mall in Ottawa, April 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

TORONTO – An auto industry group on Monday warned dealerships to be alert for scammers as outages continue after cyberattacks last week.

The alert comes as CDK Global, an Illinois-based company that provides software for several auto dealers across Canada and the U.S., was hit by back-to-back cyberattacks on Wednesday that led to a widespread outage.

Within 24 hours of the outage last week, Canadian Automobile Dealers Association president Tim Reuss said, members flagged attempts from scammers to steal their log-in credentials by impersonating company representatives.

“When this was happening,” Reuss said of the cyberattacks, “there were other scammers that talked to dealers and representing themselves as CDK representatives and say, ‘Hey, I’m here to help.'”

He said the scam attempts added insult to injury.

“Not only was the supplier hit but also there were other bad actors trying to take advantage of the whole situation,” Reuss said in an interview.

CDK told its customers to be careful of “bad actors” posing as members or affiliates of CDK to try to obtain system access by contacting customers. It urged them to be cautious of any attempted phishing.

The dealership management system, which helps run day-to-day operations such as transactions and service appointments, remains core to the operations, Reuss said.

Dealerships have remained open but workers have moved to pen and paper to record information instead of the computer system.

Gerald Wood, president of the Motors Dealers Association of Alberta, said the dealers have found creative ways to do business.

“It’s a lot of digging out old forms and handwriting things,” he said. “It’s a little bit back to basics.”

Many dealers are writing the bill of sales for their customers, which demands extra caution for accuracy across dealerships.

“Any time you go from an electronic system to a manual system, there’s always some concern that accuracy starts to falter a little bit,” Wood said.

Ford, Stellantis and BMW are among the auto companies affected by the outage. Stellantis Canada said in an email the dealerships have resorted to manual processes as CDK continues to resolve the issue.

CDK has said it will take at least several more days to restore the system.

Once the system is back, Reuss said, there will be a “hangover” among dealerships as they recover from disruptions.

“It should be a matter of a couple of weeks while the dealership needs to re-input everything and reconcile into the system,” he said. “Make sure everything is up to snuff again.”

But he said critical information about the data breaches is still outstanding.

“We’re also waiting on additional information and transparency from CDK,” he said. “Was any customer data at any point in an unencrypted fashion affected?”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 24, 2024.

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