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CDK cyberattack shuts down auto dealerships across the U.S. Here's what to know.

Bel Air dealership among nationwide businesses impacted by cyberattack
Bel Air dealership among nationwide businesses impacted by cyberattack 02:11

CDK Global, a company that provides auto dealerships across the U.S. with software for managing sales and other services, was shut down for a third straight day Friday after cyberattacks crippled the platform. 

The outage is disrupting roughly 15,000 car sellers that depend on CDK's dealer management software to run their businesses, including vehicle sales. Some dealership employees have resorted to pen and paper to handle transactions, but said most deals had ground to a halt. CDK has not indicated when its systems will be back up and running, but suggested the outage could last several days. 

"We are actively investigating a cyber incident," a CDK spokesperson told CBS News. "Out of an abundance of caution and concern for our customers, we have shut down most of our systems and are working diligently to get everything up and running as quickly as possible." 

CDK, which said it had restored some services on Wednesday, told CBS MoneyWatch on Thursday afternoon that its systems were again offline after it suffered another cyberattack. 

"Late in the evening of June 19, we experienced an additional cyber incident and proactively shut down most of our systems," a CDK spokesperson said. "In partnership with third-party experts, we are assessing the impact and providing regular updates to our customers. We remain vigilant in our efforts to reinstate our services and get our dealers back to business as usual as quickly as possible."

Calls to a CDK customer support hotline produced a continuous busy signal. But the company's automated recording said the outage could affect dealerships for days, according to PC Mag. The message told callers, "At this time, we do not have an estimated time frame for resolution and therefore our dealers' systems will not be available likely for several days," the publication reported.

The message also warned callers that "bad actors" posing as CDK support staff were trying to obtain customers' credentials in what are known as phishing attacks, according to The Associated Press

The number of cyberattacks has been on the rise in the last year, with more than 3,200 data breaches in 2023, a 78% jump from the prior year, according to a new study from data firm SOAX. Those breaches impacted more than 65 million victims last year, it added.

What is CDK? 

CDK's dealer management system, or DMS, lets car vendors operate their business, including handling payroll, inventory, customer relations and office operations. The technology also enables dealers to line car buyers line up with financing and insurance.

On its website, it also touts its cybersecurity capabilities. "CDK Cybersecurity Solutions provide a three-tiered cybersecurity strategy to prevent, protect and respond to cyberattacks so you can defend your dealership," it says. 

Brookfield Business Partners, a Toronto-based private equity firm, acquired the company in 2022 in a deal valued at more than $8 billion.

When did the cyberattack begin?

The cyberattack on CDK Global began Tuesday evening, Bleeping Computer, a cybersecurity news site, reported Wednesday, taking the 15,000 car dealerships it serves offline.  

As mentioned above, CDK said it suffered another cyberattack on Wednesday evening. It is not currently known who, or what group, is behind the cyberattacks. 

Mike Stanton, CEO of the National Automobile Dealers Association, said in a statement on Friday that "dealers are very committed to protecting their customer information and are actively seeking information from CDK to determine the nature and scope of the cyber incident so they can respond appropriately."

How are dealerships responding?

Some dealerships appeared to get creative to continue doing business during the outage. Dealership employees posted about the outage on Reddit Wednesday, sharing that they were relying on spreadsheets and sticky notes to sell customers small parts and make repairs, but that they weren't making any large transactions. 

One employee asked other dealership employees, "How many of you are standing around because your whole shop runs on CDK?" under the heading "CDK down," with users in Wisconsin and Colorado confirming their dealership transaction systems were offline. 

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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