A gang of hackers handed Arnold Clark a particularly unwelcome gift on Christmas Eve after the dealer group fell victim to a cyber attack.
The firm, which recently topped our Car Dealer Top 100 list, saw its computer systems downed on December 24.
The outfit’s telephone system was also impacted by the breach but a spokesman insisted last week that there was no evidence of customer information being compromised.
According to some reports – which an Arnold Clark spokesperson strongly denied to Car Dealer – the group’s IT chief was forced to cut short a festive trip to Italy in order to try and resolve the issue.
Despite best efforts, sales teams were still unable to process details on the company’s system four days on from the attack.
A source close to the situation told The Sun on December 28: ‘It happened on Christmas Eve and their systems are still down four days on.
‘The hackers wiped out their systems and they are trying to recover customers details while rebuilding their system.
‘Staff email addresses and even the phones aren’t working.
‘The IT guy was on holiday in Italy but they couldn’t get hold of him. Eventually they tracked him down to his hotel and he was told he had to get the first flight home.
‘Employees have been told to keep what’s happened under wraps but there was no chance something this big wouldn’t get out.
‘They are having to take customer details using paper and pen, it’s like being back to the 1970s.’
An Arnold Clark spokesman said today: ‘Late on the evening of December 23, the group was notified by our external cyber security consultants of suspicious traffic on our network.
‘Once we confirmed this internally with our own cyber team, we made the decision to bring down our network voluntarily as a purely protective measure, which has resulted in us cutting connectivity to the internet, our dealerships and our third party connections.
‘Our priority has been to protect our customers data, our systems and our third party partners. While this has been achieved, this action has caused some temporary disruption to our business and unfortunately to our customers.
‘Our external security partners have now been performing an extensive review of our whole our IT network and infrastructure, which is a mammoth task, and they are providing guidance to our IT team on the re-enabling of our network and systems in a safe, secure and phased manner.
‘Our showrooms and branches are open and we will be able to assist our customers using our temporary systems until we have been able to restore our full systems safely.
‘We expect to resume customer vehicle collections later this week. And our branches are contacting customers to arrange this once again. We would like to thank our customers for their understanding and apologise for any inconvenience this has caused.’
Arnold Clark are far from the first dealer group to suffer a cyber attack, with several other firms falling victim to hackers in recent years.
Last October, Car Dealer reported that Pendragon was being held to £54m ransom by hackers.
On that occasion, the group had its IT servers hacked, with dark web criminal gang LockBit 3.0 stealing five per cent of its data.
There was also a similar incident at Holdcroft Motor Group, which saw its core systems ‘damaged beyond repair’ or ‘permanently deleted’.
The firm told us back in August that the attack ‘may have compromised employees’ information’.
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