TIMONIUM, Md. — Helion Automotive Technologies is offering a new security awareness training program for auto dealership employees. Executives said the solution is designed to build a “human firewall” that reduces the risk of data breaches from phishing and other social engineering attacks, noting that cybercrime is a persistent and growing threat to dealerships, and 91% of successful data breaches start with a phishing attack.

The training program also helps dealers comply with the FTC’s Safeguards Rule to protect consumer personal information. Dealerships that provide financing to customers are subject to the rule and are required to provide employees with security awareness training.

“A dealership can have a secure firewall and anti-virus software, but even the best technology can’t protect them from sophisticated phishing schemes where humans are the weak link,” said Erik Nachbahr, president of Helion Technologies. “Once an employee clicks on an email link and surrenders information, it’s easy for cybercriminals to accomplish their objectives.”

The consequences of phishing attacks are devastating. Many incidences of dealership employees transferring tens of thousands of dollars to bank accounts have been documented, only to have the money disappear forever. In one case, a dealership lost $251,000 in a single transaction.

An additional consequence of a data breach includes harm to a dealership’s reputation. Nearly 84% of consumers claimed they would not buy another car from a dealership if their data had been compromised, according to a study by Total Dealer Compliance. Dealers also face the threat of legal and civil lawsuits when their customers’ personal data is compromised.

“Dealers are vulnerable to attacks because they tend to have a lot of cash in their bank accounts and conduct a large number of electronic financial transactions. That’s very attractive to cybercriminals,” said Nachbahr.

Helion’s security awareness training program includes baseline testing using a simulated phishing attack; a library of videos, online games, and training modules; monthly phishing security tests for every employee on the system; and a “Phish Alert Button” that provides employees with a safe and easy way to report malicious emails, among other features.

“Employees are your last line of defense,” said Nachbahr. “It’s a dealer’s responsibility to train them but most dealers aren’t aware of the scope of the threat, let alone how to counter it. We searched for a solution to this problem and we’re thrilled to offer this training program that will safeguard dealerships’ money, customer data, and reputations.”

Visit Helion Technologies at NADA Booth No. 6453W.

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