TO THE EDITOR:
Regarding "FTC should move wisely to protect consumers' data" (Sept. 16) and "FTC's plan too costly to dealers, NADA says" (Sept. 9):
The Federal Trade Commission is responding to consumer advocacy groups and the fact that despite a 2003 rule, most businesses do not adequately protect consumer data. We estimate that over half of dealerships have not significantly upgraded their information technology networks in 10 years. Dealers routinely appoint people to safeguard data who are neither qualified nor certified. The technology is often outdated and many times unsupported by the manufacturer. For example, most dealerships are still using Windows 7, which is being phased out by Microsoft and will leave dealerships highly vulnerable to attacks if still in use after Jan. 14.
Regardless of whether the proposed FTC changes take effect, dealerships will be forced to comply with data privacy laws sooner or later. Many states are passing legislation that increases cybersecurity requirements. A federal bill is in the works.
Dealerships today are technology companies. The sooner dealers view IT spending as an investment for success, instead of an expense, the sooner they will reap the benefits. Upgrading IT infrastructures mitigates the risk of a data breach but also enhances a dealer's ability to sell and service cars.
ERIK NACHBAHR, President, Helion Technologies, Timonium, Md. Helion Technologies provides IT management for automotive and heavy-duty truck dealerships.