Written by Betsy Fata, Solera Content Writer

Cybersecurity can seem like a complex issue. We all know we need it; however, the installation and facilitation of high-quality software and systems is pretty daunting. Luckily, we have some practical tips for shops and business of all sizes—and budgets—to follow for safe and secure business operations.  

Keep Customers First 

Treat cybersecurity as an integral part of customer service. Your shop goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure customers leave your shop happy—you should be treating their data and protecting your systems the same way you treat their vehicle. 

Investments in high-tech systems may not be feasible for you; however, you can make cybersecurity a top priority through your actions and priorities. Meet weekly with your staff to discuss best practices and educate them on the cost of attacks—ransomware, a type of software designed to deny access to a system or data until a ransom is paid, is expected to become a $11.5B industry by the end of this year. Host a local IT team to present on tips for shoring up network vulnerabilities. When customers feel confident in sharing information with you, they’ll be more likely to return for service. 

Know Your Level of Vulnerability 

Every 14 seconds there is a ransomware attack somewhere in the world. If you’re doing business, your data is valuable. Hackers will try to destroy, obtain or make your data unusable unless you pay a ransom. It may be hard to imagine, but there are lists of connected devices out on the internet for hackers to query and unleash mass attacks on. These devices include, but aren’t limited to, everyday tech like laptops, phones and Internet of Things devices, such as an Alexa or a smart thermostat. If you happen to be one of the thousands of users running an outdated PC, you may be targeted simply due to lack of security updates on your device. However, by no means are attacks simply random or senseless—nearly half of all cybersecurity incidents in 2018 were committed against small business owners, and 71% of those were financially motivated. Just because you may run a smaller outfit doesn’t mean you’re not at risk. A monthly subscription for ransomware protection and a strong list of passwords (never written down) are simple ways to protect your business and devices from random or targeted attacks.    

Be Skeptical and Discerning  

A more recent tactic of cyber hackers is to appeal to targets on a personal level. A hacker may email or call your business under the guise of a desperate family member or friend seeking money or private information. They may claim to represent the IRS and ask for verification of your personal or professional identity in order to file your taxes. Be very cautious about giving away any information to someone over the phone or over email. Verify their identify by asking for a reference ID number or their name and agent ID. If they claim to be a personal relation, ask them questions that only the supposed individual would know. Go beyond public information such as name, address and phone number or personal data points like a dog’s name, something someone could find easily on social media. You won’t sound foolish, you’ll sound shrewd, even if it is in fact an acquaintance.  

Do What You Can 

Installing a million-dollar security software may be out of reach for you. However, there are plenty of inexpensive and free resources for you to protect your data and your customers. You may even look to hire an IT consulting company to perform a security health check. If so, be sure this partner understands your business before you pay for their solutions. Cybersecurity is a multibillion-dollar industry. You want to partner with someone who understands your business and your data landscape.  

There’s always more to learn about protecting yourself and your business from malicious cyber activity. Take an hour each week to skim cybersecurity-related blogs and test yourself and your staff to learn how to properly identify cyber threats. Here are a few resources we recommend: 

Staying educated is the first step to combating cyber threats—so keep your staff informed and be on the lookout for more tips from Solera. 

And listen to our new podcast, Solera Innovation Labs, where we feature industry experts and discuss the future of the automotive ecosystem. Subscribe to the podcast on your favorite channel to be notified when new episodes drop.