A shocking revelation was made by Uber on Tuesday. As the ride hailing company fired its Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan and one if his deputies, the company revealed that it battled a massive data breach in which hackers stole the personal data of 57 million riders and drivers associated with company in 2016. Uber personnel paid $100,000 to the hackers in order to have them delete the stolen data.
“Compromised data from the October 2016 attack included names, email addresses and phone numbers of 50 million Uber riders around the world,” the company told Bloomberg on Tuesday. The personal information of about 7 million drivers was accessed as well, including some 600,000 U.S. driver’s license numbers. “No Social Security numbers, credit card information, trip location details or other data were taken,” Uber claims.
Uber was required to alert regulators and drivers whose license numbers were compromised by the hack. Instead, the company paid the hackers $100,000 to erase the stolen data and keep word of the breach hidden. The New York attorney general’s office said on Tuesday it was launching an investigation into the data breach.
Here is what Dara Khaosrowshahi, the company’s CEO, has to say about the hack:
As Uber’s CEO, it’s my job to set our course for the future, which begins with building a company that every Uber employee, partner and customer can be proud of. For that to happen, we have to be honest and transparent as we work to repair our past mistakes.
I recently learned that in late 2016 we became aware that two individuals outside the company had inappropriately accessed user data stored on a third-party cloud-based service that we use. The incident did not breach our corporate systems or infrastructure.
Our outside forensics experts have not seen any indication that trip location history, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers or dates of birth were downloaded. However, the individuals were able to download files containing a significant amount of other information, including:
• The names and driver’s license numbers of around 600,000 drivers in the United States.
• Some personal information of 57 million Uber users around the world, including the drivers described above. This information included names, email addresses and mobile phone numbers.
At the time of the incident, we took immediate steps to secure the data and shut down further unauthorized access by the individuals. We subsequently identified the individuals and obtained assurances that the downloaded data had been destroyed. We also implemented security measures to restrict access to and strengthen controls on our cloud-based storage accounts.
You may be asking why we are just talking about this now, a year later. I had the same question, so I immediately asked for a thorough investigation of what happened and how we handled it. What I learned, particularly around our failure to notify affected individuals or regulators last year, has prompted me to take several actions:
• I’ve asked Matt Olsen, a co-founder of a cybersecurity consulting firm and former general counsel of the National Security Agency and director of the National Counterterrorism Center, to help me think through how best to guide and structure our security teams and processes going forward. Effective today, two of the individuals who led the response to this incident are no longer with the company.
• We are individually notifying the drivers whose driver’s license numbers were downloaded.
• We are providing these drivers with free credit monitoring and identity theft protection.
• We are notifying regulatory authorities.
• While we have not seen evidence of fraud or misuse tied to the incident, we are monitoring the affected accounts and have flagged them for additional fraud protection.
None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it. While I can’t erase the past, I can commit on behalf of every Uber employee that we will learn from our mistakes. We are changing the way we do business, putting integrity at the core of every decision we make and working hard to earn the trust of our customers.