A dealership group recently discovered that more than 100 third-party vendors had unauthorized access to its Reynolds and Reynolds Co. computer system.
Reynolds won't reveal which dealership group was the target, but the unauthorized access is not surprising. Dealerships often allow third-party vendors, such as lead generators and software providers, access to their computer systems to transmit and extract data.
These connections are commonly called hostile or unsupported interfaces because Reynolds -- or any other major supplier of dealership management systems -- is typically left out of the deals with third-party vendors.
Dealerships give third-party vendors access to their computer systems to extract inventory, service history and certain customer information. The vendors generally are providing services that the dealerships want and value.
But hundreds of third-party vendors sell software and services to dealerships. Problems arise when dealerships lose track of which vendors they have granted access to their computer systems. Some vendors have continued to extract information from dealership computer systems long after contracts have expired.
And the very nature of the hostile interface can cause big headaches for dealerships. Vendors that tap dealership systems through hostile interfaces are not always familiar with the systems. That has caused dealership systems to slow down, lock up and corrupt data.
"These are not necessarily isolated cases," says Clif Mason, vice president of product marketing for ADP Dealer Services.
Reynolds, ADP and Universal Computer Systems Inc., three of the largest suppliers of dealership management systems, offer third-party vendors alternatives to hostile interfaces. In the process, they are providing dealerships with data security and some peace of mind.
Reynolds, for example, has developed certified interfaces with J.D. Power and Associates' Power Information Network, Enterprise Rent-A-Car Co. and Stronghold Technologies Inc., to name a few.