How the latest cyberattack is affecting prospective car buyers in Maryland — and nationwide

Car dealerships around the country are the latest victims of a cyberattack.

Hackers went after a company, CDK Global, that makes software used by car dealers both here in the U.S. and in Canada.

It started last week and fallout continues to be felt Tuesday.

Peter Kitzmiller is the president of the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association. He joined WTOP’s Shawn Anderson and Anne Kramer to talk about it.

President of the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association Peter Kitzmiller talks with WTOP's Shawn Anderson and Anne Kramer about the CDK cyberattack affecting car dealerships around the country.


The transcript below has been lightly edited for clarity.

Shawn Anderson: So when did car dealers in Maryland first realize that something was wrong and what transactions or issues have come as a result of this cyberattack?

Peter Kitzmiller: So I think we were we were made — or the dealerships were made — aware at like 2 a.m. last Wednesday. So it’s already been almost a week now. And so it’s had a pretty significant impact right off the bat. I mean, we’re like every other business, everything’s run by computers, processing your new car, used car purchase, making your appointment in the service department, communicating with customers — all those things, even the phone systems were impacted.

I think the biggest issue was, in Maryland, when you go to buy a car, the dealership provides either with a part tag or a temporary tag. All that is done electronically through the dealer management system, like CDK. That was an issue, but we’ve been working with MVA and so that part of the transaction, we can absolutely get you tags now. And that’s not going to be an issue going forward.

Anne Kramer: What has been the toughest part? I mentioned about going old school, some dealerships are. Is that what you’re seeing in Maryland, with some of the dealerships here, they’re having to use pen and paper?

Peter Kitzmiller: Absolutely, that is part of it. Some of those things are going to have to go back, you know, 30 years ago. And again, transmitting information to a lender on behalf of a customer, all those things have been a little bit, have been made more complex, because we don’t have the system back up and running yet. But I do want to tell everyone that if you’re considering buying a car, you’ve been working with the dealership, absolutely they’ve got workarounds — they’re going to make it work.

If you haven’t been contacted as quickly as you normally would, or you’re having a harder time making a service appointment. That’s where that impact is going to be felt. But again, I certainly would encourage everyone, if you’ve been looking at a car online or whatever, don’t hesitate to go into the dealership because we are coming up with workarounds.

Shawn Anderson: How much of a financial impact though has this had on dealerships in Maryland over the past few days?

Peter Kitzmiller: I don’t think we could put a number on it yet. There’s no question it is going to have a financial impact. I think it’s going to be pretty significant. Car dealerships are very cash intensive businesses, a lot of employees and, you know, you go a day when you can’t transact any business, there’s going to be a cost associated with that.

Anne Kramer: Peter, has every car dealership in Maryland been impacted by this?

Peter Kitzmiller: Not necessarily. So there’s really two categories of people that have been directly impacted. If you’re one of the dealerships that used CDK for what we call DMS or your dealer management system, then yes, you’ve been significantly impacted. Then there’s a subset of electronic commerce called CVR. If you use them, they’re a subsidiary of CDK. So they have been impacted as well.

So the dealers that have CDK as their primary dealer management system has been impacted the most, but every dealer has probably had some issue because they work together, they work with various vendors that are across platforms, but it’s primarily those dealers that use CDK. Again CDK was one of the biggest players in the industry. I think they have 15,000 dealership rooftops across the country. So they’re certainly a very, very significant part of the industry.

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