Over a third of dealers (37%) still use the Windows 7 operating system, despite Microsoft withdrawing support for the product this week, according to iVendi.
Without official security updates, dealer platforms and consumer data are left vulnerable to attacks through viruses and malware.
James Tew, chief executive at iVendi, said: “We have several thousand dealerships using our products in the UK, providing a good cross-section across franchises, independents and car supermarkets so our figure is, we believe, probably broadly representative of the total market.
“While this doesn’t affect the data security of our online motor retail products, which run within a browser environment, we can track which version of Windows is installed on each PC used to access our systems from our data analytics.”
Tew said that there is no doubt that customer data stored on the hardware of such a computer is more exposed to a cyber attack and further implications, such as legal issues and reputational damage.
“Essentially, if a security vulnerability is exposed in Windows 7 in the future, which is relatively likely because the technology is now quite old, no patches will be made available to resolve the problem,” continued Tew. “In IT terms, it’s a leaky boat that is only going to take on more water as time passes.
“We’d urge dealers to seriously consider upgrading to a newer operating system. Microsoft is advising people to adopt Windows 10, which can be done at a reasonable cost and, as long as your hardware is capable of running it, this seems like the simplest route to resolving the problem.”
Tew said that dealers face a difficult decision – as they may have to update a range of software when updating from Windows 7, which can be expensive.
“We are strongly advising dealers to take action and, where possible, will help them to make the transition to a newer system and ensure that their consumer data is stored in a secure manner.”