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CDK Global cyberattack shuts down US operations

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CDK Global, a software as a service (SaaS) company for car dealerships, suffered a massive cyberattack that forced it to shut down its systems, leaving partner car dealerships unable to conduct business. At the time of writing, CDK has restored CDK Phones, DMS, and Digital Retail services, with Unify and DMS logins available. However, the company is still testing other applications before returning them online.

The attacks started on the evening of Tuesday, June 18, and continued into Wednesday morning. As a precaution to prevent the attack from spreading, the company’s servers shut down. BleepingComputer reports that the attack caused CDK to take both its data centres offline at approximately 2am Tuesday.

CDK’s offerings include programs to handle all aspects of a car dealership, including financing, payroll management, support and service, inventory, and other back-office operations. Over 15,000 dealerships in the US use its software. The company also provides an always-on VPN connection to connect client-side applications to its servers.

Employees at affected car dealerships were reportedly worried that the attack could spread to them via the always-on VPN connection that CDK requires. CDK, in turn, also advised car dealerships to disable the VPN connection until they’re back online out of caution. CDK software running on client devices has administrative privileges to allow the software vendor to push updates, which could be one of the reasons why the company asked customers to shut down the VPN connection.

The company has yet to explain the incident, but it’s rumoured that it could be a ransomware attack. While it’s not yet been confirmed, a ransomware attack can likely render CDK’s infrastructure inoperable for days, if not weeks. However, considering the company is already starting to restore its systems, the possibility of a ransomware attack remains low.

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Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: