Last week, the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper reported the data breach at the Bill Dube Ford/Toyota dealership when computer data tapes were stolen. The stolen data included the:
"Personal information from thousands of people in New Hampshire and Massachusetts...The pilfered data include names, addresses, Social Security numbers and driver's license information, but no financial data such as credit card information, from customers at Bill Dube's dealerships in Dover and Wilmington, Mass."
The number of people affected by this data breach was estimated at over 10,000. It's unacceptable that, four months later, the dealership doesn't know the contents of the stolen data tapes. A computer security expert should have been hired to help determine the tape contents.
Also, the dealership was extremely slow to notify affected consumers since the theft was were discovered on August 5 and customers were notified in a letter dated December 5. That delay is totally unacceptable.
This breach is also noteworthy due to the crisis in the auto industry. As the U.S. Federal Government debates whether or not to provide bailout monies to the U.S. auto manufacturers, the result has implications for hundreds of auto dealerships.
Should one or more auto companies go out of business, the same would likely happen with hundreds of auto dealerships. Yes, hundreds of thousands of people could lose their jobs. Beyond that, the closing of auto dealerships raises the question about the data security of the sensitive personal data archived at those dealerships. Will those dealerships adequately protect that data? Will dealerships that go out of business effectively destroy sensitive data? Who is looking out for the consumers' interests?
Here's an idea. The oil companies should bail out the auto companies. Why?
First, the oil companies have huge amounts of cash. Remember the oil companies made record profits over the past few years as gas rose near $4.00 per gallon. Second, the oil and auto industries have a symbiotic relationship. One industry sells what the other industry's products consume. The oil companies have a stake in the health of the auto industry.
Third, it gets the Federal government out of the corporate bailout game, a place where government doesn't have the necessary skills and expertise. Fourth, it's an opportunity for oil companies to do something patriotic: save several major American companies and save thousands of jobs. Just think of the goodwill oil companies would collect.