When talking with dealerships about technology, the conversations tend to be in the context of sales, service and support of precision farming systems. But there is an arguably more critical technology discussion that should be taking place within dealerships.

While cyber security is acknowledged as a threat, dealers — especially mid-size and even single-store operations — aren’t always thinking about how to stay insulated against increasingly invasive scams.

Email phishing, ransomware and data theft are scalable shakedowns that cyber criminals deploy on unprepared dealerships. Trying the anticipate and understand the severity of threats can be overwhelming, but a risk assessment allows dealerships to identify where they are most vulnerable.

Wayne Selk, director of professional services with ConnectWise, an IT management consulting company, notes that there is often a disparity between what dealers deem most valuable in terms of technology infrastructure vs. the investment they make to protect it. But the consequences are real if dealers don’t weigh their risk of exposure with the need to have proper protections in place.

“It's not so much about the fact that I'm a small company today, it's what is it that I have that's valuable to me? Because someone is going to end up commoditizing that if they can get their hands on it and I'm going to be out of business, or I'm going to have a torched brand or reputation. When you start looking at this from a different perspective, and say, ‘What is it that makes me so important today? Why am I making money?’ And you boil it down to the data that you have — intellectual property, customer information, credit cards — then that can be commoditized by a bad actor regardless of the size of your business.”

Look for more coverage of how dealerships can protect themselves from cyber threats, and other essential business technology evolutions in the June Showcase issue of Farm Equipment magazine.