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Billings car dealerships navigating through national cybersecurity attack

Posted at 7:13 PM, Jun 26, 2024

BILLINGS — A hacking group carried out back-to-back ransomware attacks on CDK Global last Wednesday, a corporation that provides data and technology to the automotive, heavy truck, recreation, and heavy equipment industries.

Lithia Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Billings is just one of 15,000 dealerships across the country impacted by that attack. They're using creative alternatives to navigate.

“I know there are some dealers that shut down initially, thinking this will be a day or two thing,” said Nolan Fisher, the general manager of Lithia Dodge, on Wednesday.

That ransomware attack has taken a toll on nearly every aspect of Lithia's day-to-day workflow.

General Manager of Lithia Chrysler Jeep Dodge Nolan Fisher

“This is a system that allows us to get from A to Z in whatever department you're working with, whether it's sales, service, parts as quickly and efficiently as possible.” Fisher said.

Billings Tech Guys founder Dylan Solberg said it's a big deal.

“Black Suit, a hacking group, hit them with a ransomware. And what a ransomware does is it basically shuts their business down so they can’t access files, their systems, anything,” said Solberg.

“We found ways to do business instead of finding ways not to...Every department's kind of had to go to an archaic, essentially handwritten processes in a lot of ways,” Fisher said.

Nolan said they've also been shuffling staff.

Lithia Chrysler Jeep Dodge

“We've had to leverage different parts of our staff to do different jobs, whether it's the office staff helping fill out these logs and the accounting team ensuring that what we're reporting is accurate," said Fisher.

So far, Fisher said customers have been understanding, although it has slowed down the car-buying process.

“For the most part, it's a little bit longer, but not terrible. I think we're pretty upfront of, "Hey, this is what's going on. You've probably seen. There are some things we're doing that are a little slower,” Fisher added.

It's unclear when the issues will be resolved. Solberg said CDK might have to pay tens of millions of dollars to Black Suit to regain control.

Founder of Billings Tech Guys Dylan Solberg

“CDK is a cyber security company so you’d think they’d have these protections in place, but again they're a big target because all of the customers they have,” said Solberg.

The impacts are expected to be felt for years to come.

“People are just having to do a little bit more, but for the most part, my team has been wonderful is saying hey, we’ll figure it out,” Fisher said.

Solberg said hackers have been targeting local businesses as well. If you'd like more information on preventing cyber security attacks, visit the Billlings Tech Guys website.