No end in sight for resolving the car dealer cyberattack

Ransomware attack on CDK Global disrupts 15,000 U.S. car dealers, forcing manual sales processing and overwhelming registration offices - Photo by UnSplash +

Dealers have been processing orders by hand for the last week

For the last week, it’s been harder to buy a car or truck, but it has nothing to do with the sticker price or the monthly payment.

Last week CDK Global was hit with a ransomware attack, paralyzing its dealer management system (DMS) used by as many as 15,000 U.S. car dealers to automate the sales process. As a result, dealers have returned to the 1960s, processing each sale by hand.

In an email to clients obtained by CBS News, CDK Global said that the process of getting its systems back online had started but warned it could take several days, if not weeks to complete.

The outage affects car buyers in several ways. For one thing, some impacted dealerships are turning customers away, saying they have been overwhelmed with paperwork. That limits options and reduces a buyer’s leverage.

Even when customers are able to complete a deal, there are still hoops to jump through before they can drive off the lot. Before last week vehicles would be licensed and registered with just a few computer keystrokes.

Registration offices are overwhelmed

It’s not so simple now. CNN reports that one Massachusetts dealer began sending customers to state motor vehicle offices to register their vehicles in person. But the offices, staffed for computer operations, couldn’t handle the overflow and began turning people away, essentially preventing them from driving the vehicles they had purchased.

Dealers across the country first became aware of the issue on the morning of Wednesday, June 19. Employees had no access to their regular systems, forcing them to try alternative computer programs to keep things running. 

While the system appeared to be back up and running by midday, a subsequent attack stalled any progress. 

“Late in the evening of June 19, we experienced an additional cyber incident and proactively shut down most of our systems,” the company said last week. “In partnership with third-party experts, we are assessing the impact and providing regular updates to our customers. We remain vigilant in our efforts to reinstate our services and get our deals back to business as usual as quickly as possible.” 

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