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Thursday, September 23rd at 11:00 AM ET

 

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Automotive's Black Swan Event: Insights From a Cybersecurity Veteran

By: Yaron Rosen
5 minute read

Before I became the CEO of Fuse Autotech, my background was in cybersecurity. During my military service, I served in cyber defense and cyber warfare units. After completing 32 years of active duty, I co-founded Toka, a firm that provides forensic investigations, targeted intelligence, and covert operations to government agencies and militaries within NATO countries. I continue to serve on Toka’s board to this day. I am also a co-founder of Illuminant Defense, a managed security service provider (MSSP). I currently serve as Chairman of the Board of Illuminant.

The last few days our team has been intentionally quiet on social media. We needed time to listen, learn, and help our current clients. We didn't want to jump in and comment when we didn’t have all the facts. We’ve been  working hard to help our clients navigate new sales strategies during this time. We also focused on improving our "quick start" onboarding and implementation process to better assist those who aren't current customers. We are starting this process with leading dealerships and are optimistic about helping during this challenging time. 

Reflections on the Cyber Event

Robust, well-hardened software systems can still be hacked. Hacker groups have evolved into highly persistent and networked entities, leveraging their skills and resources to execute sophisticated cyber-attacks. These groups operate with a level of coordination and resilience that makes them formidable adversaries. Their persistence is evident in their continuous adaptation of techniques and tools to bypass security measures, often maintaining access to compromised systems for extended periods. This tenacity allows them to gather valuable data, disrupt operations, and cause significant damage.

The networked nature of these groups means they can pool their knowledge, share resources, and collaborate on attacks, making them more effective and harder to counter. They utilize various platforms, including the dark web, to recruit members, distribute malicious software, and plan coordinated strikes, often targeting multiple entities simultaneously.

The diverse motivations and wide range of targets pursued by hacker groups underscore their nefarious nature. Some groups are driven by financial gain, engaging in activities such as ransomware attacks, phishing schemes, and data theft to extort money from individuals and organizations. Others are politically motivated, aiming to disrupt critical infrastructure, steal sensitive information, or influence public opinion and political outcomes. Additionally, some hacker groups are state-sponsored, conducting cyber-espionage and cyber-warfare to further national interests. Regardless of their motivations, the actions of these groups pose a significant threat to global security and stability. Their ability to operate anonymously and across borders complicates efforts to track, apprehend, and neutralize them, highlighting the need for robust international cooperation and advanced cybersecurity measures.

What happened in the automotive industry has also occurred in other critical industries with large and seemingly well-defended companies. Consider Maersk, the largest container shipping company in the world, transporting 20% of the world’s sea freight. Maersk was attacked in June and July of 2017, leading them to reinstall 4,000 servers, 45,000 PCs, and 2,500 applications.

An event like the one that has struck the automotive industry is a reminder that cybersecurity vigilance remains a high priority for automotive leaders, including both retailers and software vendors. Just like when Covid hit dealerships need to be resilient, adapt to the current reality and focus not only on immediate business but also on business continuity to meet future challenges. 

Kudos to Our Fuse Team and the Dealerships We Work With

On a more personal note, I want to thank our team at Fuse and our customers for coming together to keep car deals flowing. Fuse Transact, our point-of-sale platform for dealerships, handles all elements of a car sale between the CRM and the DMS. Fuse has been running smoothly, allowing dealerships to provide payment quotes (desking), submit credit applications, receive decisions and check compliance, present an F&I menu, as well as populate and e-sign documents and contracts all from a single screen with a single login. Our dealers are delivering cars and cashing contracts. Fuse is archiving deals and is ready to push them into the DMS once integrations are stable and ready to accept data.

Special mention goes to two exceptional partners: Walser Automotive Group, one of our initial design partners, and JM Lexus, who have placed their confidence in us to automate their sales process. These are two of the most forward-thinking organizations in auto retail, and it has been very rewarding to work with them while their dealership systems have been tested by this event. 

Our Point of View
Of course the CRM and DMS are fundamental for automotive retailers. But, the point-of-sale software platform that fits between CRM and DMS needs to be integrated yet separate. In the event of CRM or DMS failure the "cash register" must always function. Using a cloud based point-of-sale system (cash register) that can desk, process credit and compliance, present the F&I menu and e-sign documents is not only important for sales process automation but also as a key business continuity strategy. In short, isolate the "cash register".

Resources for Dealerships

Please reach out to me personally if I can provide insight or guidance on cybersecurity. Fuse is not a cybersecurity company and does not sell those services. However, as the former head of the Israeli Defense Force Cyber Staff, I have a unique perspective on these criminal threats. If you think a conversation would be beneficial, I’m ready to help. Reach out to me at yaron@fuseautotech.com to schedule time.


Finally, Fuse Autotech is a modern, cloud-based point-of-sale platform that has helped dealers execute a successful business continuity plan during this crisis. As I mentioned above, Fuse dealers are desking, processing credit and compliance, presenting the F&I menu, and signing documents all from a single screen with a single login. We’d be honored to show you how we are working with Walser, JM Lexus, and others to deliver an exceptional, profitable, and secure purchase experience. We offer quick start services as well as long-term strategies. Reach out to Ryan Magee, our head of sales, to learn more at ryan@fuseautotech.com.

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