Uber breach affected 57 million riders and drivers


Global transportation technology company Uber Technologies has admitted it suffered a breach that saw hackers stealing the personal information of approximately 57 million customers and drivers.

So how did it happen? It was reported that two hackers gained access to a private area of the online resource for developers dubbed “Github”. From that point, the threat actors found the transport giant’s login credentials for Amazon Web Services (AWS) – a cloud computing platform used by myriad companies to store all sorts of data, including apps.

As if that isn’t bad enough, the company is now in hot water, as it failed to disclose the breach for nearly a year. It has also been claimed it paid off hackers to destroy the data. Uber is now facing a multimillion-dollar consumer protection lawsuit.

The breach exposed the names and driver’s license numbers of about 600 000 drivers in the US, and other personal information of all 57 million Uber users and drivers around the world, including names, email addresses and mobile phone numbers. The company insisted its forensics experts saw no evidence that trip location history, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers or dates of birth were compromised, and said it is monitoring the affected accounts and has flagged them for extra fraud protection. It says it had notified affected drivers whose driver’s license numbers were compromised, and is giving them free credit monitoring as well as identity theft protection.

Although Uber believes no action is needed, we still need to be aware of other factors when breaches of this scale take place. When well-known entities attract attention in the news, threat actors could try to use the conversation around these incidents to their advantage.

One way they could do this is through phishing attacks, or emails that appear to come from Uber, in an effort to fool unwitting users into disclosing sensitive data, including account credentials or payment card information. In any event of this nature, it is advisable to go directly to the source, and get updates only from the organisation’s official Web site. Be suspicious of mails claiming to be from Uber, and under no circumstances click on any links or attachments in the mails.

The bottom line is that Uber was not prepared, and didn’t handle the incident well. Even with the latest and most advanced threat protection technologies, no company’s data is safe. There’s no silver bullet when it comes to cyber security. Businesses have to ensure they are covered in the event of a data breach.

Had Uber had cyber insurance in place, it could have saved itself a whole world of pain. Cyber insurance is highly specialised, and designed specifically to help protect organisations, as well as help them recover in the event of a security incident. Cyber events come in all shapes and sizes, and can be catastrophic for businesses.

Similarly, cyber insurance protects individuals. Should any Uber customers have money stolen out of their credit cards, the insurance would cover this.

Cyber insurance offers cover for hardware damage, data loss or corruption, cyber liability and crime, expenses covering recovery and loss of income. Moreover, it covers bringing in specialists to minimise damage to reputation and loss of confidence – something I bet Uber wishes it has now.


About Author

Thabo Mphahlele is the BizNis Africa Head of Sales and Marketing. Mphahlele was previously MultiChoice Production Support Analyst responsible for developing and monitoring applications. In addition, Mphahlele develops and automates batch scripts and is responsible for the daily infrastructure maintenance at MultiChoice. As a Production Support Analyst, he is responsible for incident analysis solving , developing and constructing business reports for SQL and Oracle and implement change controls for the business. Additional responsibility includes monitoring system performance via SOA, Kibaba (Elasticsearch), H.P BSM, HP Sitescope. Mphahlele is responsible for creating infrastructure performance reports through HP Ops Analytics, monitoring payments via Splunk and in-house built-in tool and disaster recovery simulation and testing. At Nashua Mobile, he was responsible for application development and enhancing the web sites At South West Gauteng College, he was the IT Technician and Network Administrator. During his tenure at Double Digit Media, he was he focused on application and web site development for new and existing clients Mphahlele contributes as a Content Manager for BizNis Africa.

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