Many auto dealerships are strongly promoting the safety of customers and employees. This in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why the many international dealerships are taking safety protocols seriously. Shields are up in the reception area, employees are wearing face coverings and social distancing, and disposable seat, wheel and shifter covers have been placed in all vehicles. In addition, many are establishing vigorous test drive cleaning protocol and hourly and nightly cleaning of the building. The dealership is also operating with shortened hours.
Some dealerships are using technology like iPads for completing and signing forms. Screens and pens are constantly wiped down and all paperwork is downloaded onto a USB drive for the customer to take home, so paper never changes hands.
Buying a new car often involves time spent going over all its features with a salesperson, from the windshield wipers and turn signals to the navigation system and any other high-tech packages. If buyers are concerned about being in a closed environment for a prolonged period with the salesperson, even though they will be masked and gloved, customers can choose an option for a “virtual delivery.” When a customer’s car is delivered to their home, a dealership delivery consultant will review the entire car with them via video conferencing platforms.
To make shopping easier, some dealerships are moving their auto inventory to the front of their building and placing QR codes in the windshields so customers can scan with a smartphone to learn about a particular vehicle and even live chat with a salesperson. A Midwestern BMW dealership offers a digital online purchasing tool, which was developed before the pandemic, but was quickly executed during quarantine. Customers can start the buying process online and virtually shop inventory, manage payment options, and complete most necessary documentation from home. The vulnerability here is that personal identifying information (PII) and possibly personal financial data is being sent, often in very unsecure cyber paths.
Although showrooms are now fully reopening, most dealership service centers have remained open throughout the pandemic to meet customer needs. When a car comes in for service it is fitted with plastic covers on the seat, steering wheel, and gear shift. Vehicles are cleaned and sanitized when service is complete, and any cars loaned out during service are sanitized and cleaned after each use.
Some dealerships have been so successful, they are touting that if business continues as it has been going, many dealerships will run out of inventory by July 2020. This is in part due to automobile factories shutting down and then the entire automotive supply chain was disrupted because of the pandemic. Great for dealership business in the short run, but it also alerts criminal hackers to begin targeting auto dealerships.
Dealer stocks of pre-owned cars is down too, but auto dealer officials say stocks will increase over the next few months as people who held onto older or leased cars during the quarantine will now decide to trade them in for new models, which means there will be many of options for buyers looking for a pre-owned vehicle.
A New Jersey auto dealer recently explained how the automotive industry, which accounts for $4 million a day of tax revenue in New Jersey, is a good indicator for other retail. In January of 2020, Red Sky Alliance notified one auto dealership that their E-Commerce & Business Development General Manager had credentials exposed publicly online. This is likely a trend that will spread to other companies putting their inventory online. In just six months, that same dealership had more than 15 other employees with exposed credentials. Their malicious email data indicates a malicious PDF being sent to one of their employees disguised as a “payment.”
Analysts conducted a cyber threat report using the Red Sky Alliance, RedXray tool and found some challenges with a major New England. The most serious is the keylogger data collection, which could indicate computers associated with the dealership could be keylogged. This means a bad actor can see every single key stroke of that computer. That’s not good, as the cyber criminal will then be able to directly obtain the Pii data and any financial and banking information sent along to purchase a car. That could be disastrous to both the customer and the dealership.
Red Sky Alliance strongly recommends ongoing monitoring from both internal and external perspectives. Internal monitoring is common practice. However, external threats are often overlooked and can represent an early warning of impending attacks. Red Sky Alliance can provide both internal monitoring in tandem with RedXray notifications on external threats to include, botnet activity, public data breaches, phishing, fraud, and general targeting. Red Sky Alliance is in New Boston, NH USA. We are a Cyber Threat Analysis and Intelligence Service organization. For questions, comments or assistance, please contact the lab directly at 1-844-492-7225, or firstname.lastname@example.org