Old-school cyber protection won’t cut it

Canadian IT provider A&R Solutions recently launched an all-encompassing cyber security package that helps protect dealers from old-school cyber attacks and new forms of cyber threats.

Sean Thomas

An increase in the implementation of technology and its use by numerous companies has led to greater efficiency for businesses — but it’s also expected to pave the way for greater cyber security risks.

U.S. automakers were reportedly one of the leading targets of hackers in 2018, according to an FBI report obtained by CNN. And in terms of auto retail, A&R Solutions began noticing an interesting form of phishing attacks creeping up in car dealerships last year.

“The thing is, they (hackers) realize that dealers are the low-hanging fruit because there’s turnover, there’s not proper training for cyber security. They don’t have the budget for the IT and they’re an easy target,” said Sean Thomas, VP of Technology at Dealer Security and Solutions Architect, A&R Solutions.

A&R Solutions was first launched around 13 years ago by former Reynolds & Reynolds employees. They created the company to fill a void in the market to help dealers with IT support and networking. Fast-forward to the present, and today the company describes itself as Canada’s largest automotive-focused full service IT provider, offering a range of products that include things like hardware and server backups — and cyber security solutions.

The company offers a number of products like anti-virus protection and gateway protection, but in 2019 they grouped them all together. Thomas said they did this to help their clients tackle more than just the “old-fashioned attacks.”

“The security landscape is evolving so quickly that now it’s more of a cybersecurity thing,” he said. So the company created an all-encompassing package that covered both the old-school cyber attacks and the newer ones. That package includes cyber security training, cyber security auditing, dark web monitoring, Microsoft advanced threat protection, and standardized email signatures.

“The old stuff — antivirus and gateway protections, is kind of like the windows on the car; you need them rolled up,” said Thomas. “But the new stuff is kind of like the locks on the car, and you need to lock the car too because the criminals are discovering different ways of getting into cars now. So we have to protect all those points.”

A&R Solutions covers cyber security training, phishing training, spear phishing training, next-level protection for email (against hackers trying to impersonate another person), and protection against phishing attacks, among other things. Its dark web monitoring allows the company to keep tabs on data breaches.

Asked whether it makes a difference if the dealer is using a Mac or a PC, Thomas said they are both susceptible. Macs are not immune to malware.

“Malware and viruses are generally aimed at Windows users just because they’re the biggest base. But there is plenty of malware out there for Macs, and they get infected just as easily,” said Thomas. “But if you’re aiming at a dartboard, you’re going to aim at the one that covers 90 per cent of the market, right? Especially for car dealers, it’s probably 99 per cent of the market.”

IT training and training on how to use the cyber security solutions and identify impersonators is one way dealers can protect their business, and likely one of the most effective ways at this time.

A&R Solutions has employees spread across the country, from B.C. all the way to Quebec and Newfoundland. They are currently working on a cyber security app.

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