Thousands of Dealerships Forced to Halt Services After Cyberattack

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Jun 20, 2024

Thousands of car dealerships around the United States were forced to halt services on Wednesday after a cyberattack affected CDK Global, a software provider for many dealerships.

This latest cyber incident comes as many industries have faced increasing threats from hackers bringing down software programs, which have affected how many are able to successfully do business.

When the Software Went Down at Dealerships

On Wednesday, many car dealerships were busy preparing for a busy holiday shopping day. However, thousands of dealers around the country quickly learned that their day wouldn’t be too busy after all.

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A view of a car dealership building seen at night.

Source: Erik Mclean/Unsplash

Early Wednesday around 2 a.m. Eastern time, CDK Global’s systems went down. This immediately left many dealerships unable to do basic — or any — work. This also meant they couldn’t sell cars during an anticipated busy day.

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A Necessary System

CDK’s systems are used by thousands of car dealerships around the country to do just about everything. Almost all of dealers’ normal business is done by using this software.

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A car dealer talking to two people near cars in a dealership building.

Source: Antoni Shkraba/Pexels

Therefore, when the entire system went down, many dealerships weren’t able to do anything. This resulted in various dealers having to completely halt business on Wednesday.

Running Testing

Tony Macrito, a CDK spokesperson, explained that the company “shut all systems down and executed extensive testing and consulted with external third-party experts.”

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A close-up of a row of cars parked at a dealership in the daytime.

Source: Erik Mclean/Unsplash

As the company worked to deal with this cyberattack, they also tested all applications before bringing them back online, according to Macrito.

What Caused the System Outage

CDK hasn’t yet been very transparent about what exactly caused their dealer management system — and the rest of their core products — to be shut down on Wednesday.

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A close-up of many code.

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In the next few days, the company may explain more about what happened during this cyberattack, how this incident even occurred, and how they’ll prevent it from happening again in the future.

CDK’s Services

CDK’s dealer management system, as well as all their other programs and software, allows dealerships to have all of their needs in one system.

A view of inside a dealership with a focus on cars parked indoors.

Source: Ildar Garifullin/Unsplash

CDK offers dealers the ability to make online appointments, schedule overall appointments, and sign electronically through their software. This system also has messaging tools that can be utilized.

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Some Dealerships Adapted

As many dealers use this software to do just about all of their work, various dealerships completely halted their business on Wednesday. They simply didn’t have the capabilities to get their job done.

A dealer with a notepad standing in front of a car in a dealership.

Source: Gustavo Fring/Pexels

However, other dealerships adapted to this situation and moved to paper record-keeping for normal, basic services, such as oil changes.

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Unable to Do Business

Various dealerships explained that they couldn’t do basic, routine services without this system. For example, many couldn’t even set up future appointments with customers, as they didn’t have access to this database.

Inside a car dealership with people walking around cars and balloons.

Source: SCREEN POST/Unsplash

Dealers also couldn’t access any customer records, or even print a regular repair order. Thus, this left many unable to do any type of business on Wednesday when the software was down.

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Some Dealerships Weren’t Majorly Impacted

While many dealerships simply had to stop work for the day because all of their systems were down, other car networks didn’t seem to have any major effects from this cyber incident.

A view of a Toyota dealership seen in the daytime.

Source: Erik Mclean/Unsplash

Toyota Motor Corp. revealed that their issue with the system has already been resolved. They also claimed that their dealer network faced only a small impact. Meanwhile, Subaru Corp. said that their dealership network didn’t report any impact at all.

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Protecting Customers

Overall, many of these dealers around the U.S. wanted to ensure that they protected their customers’ information during this cyberattack.

A close-up of a service section of a car dealership seen at night.

Source: Erik Mclean/Unsplash

“Dealers are very committed to protecting their customer information,” Mike Stanton, the president and chief executive of the National Automobile Dealers Association, explained. Stanton added that they’re “seeking information from CDK to determine the nature and scope of the cyber incident so they can respond appropriately.”

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Slowly Coming Back Online

By Wednesday afternoon, many dealerships were able to get their software back online. Some functions of these programs were completely back by this time, while other programs remained down.

A view through a dealership windows to see cars inside.

Source: Erik Mclean/Unsplash

CDK hasn’t yet revealed that their program is fully back online and fully operational. Even some of the restored features of the software weren’t 100% operational by Wednesday.

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An Uncertain Near Future

This has left many dealerships unable to predict what their near future will look like. If their systems remain down or not fully operational, then they may have to keep halting their business.

An aerial view of a large car dealership parking lot.

Source: Acton Crawford/Unsplash

When one customer representative at a BMW store in Manhattan was asked how long its operations may be halted, they responded, “I truly have no idea.”

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