IT

Uber paid hacker $100G to keep data breach a year ago a secret

Uber paid hacker $100G to keep data breach a year ago a secret

In November, the CEO of Uber revealed that the company had paid a hacker $100,000 to delete data obtained from a 2016 breach in which 57 million Uber customers' and drivers' names, email addresses, and phone numbers were exposed.

This is a bit unusual, as such bug bounty schemes are used to reward white hat hackers for discovering software vulnerabilities, and often the companies hosting them will trumpet the success and number of payouts they've made as an example of how strong and stable their code has become. The company only came clean about the hack 13 months after it took place, as Uber's former chief of security paid the hacker $100,000 under the guise of a bug bounty to keep it under wraps. But the company did not reveal who the hacker was or how the payment was made.

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Uber responded by paying him $4.5m and his lawyer $3m and then failed to disclose any of the details of the saga to the company suing it - Waymo - despite Waymo being explicitly named in the resignation letter. Reuters was unable to establish the identity of the hacker or another person who apparently helped him. It also conducted a forensic analysis of his machine to make sure the data had been completely removed.

It's not practice to pay a hacker who has stolen data.

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Sources told Reuters that then-CEO Travis Kalanick was aware of the breach and "bug bounty" payment in November of a year ago. The company also didn't want to pursue prosecution of a man who didn't appear to pose a threat in future. He questioned why the affected individuals and regulators weren't made aware of the hack. "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". "I have always been a strong advocate for Uber's innovative technology, but if these revelations prove true, I am disgusted by this cover-up and Uber will be held accountable".

Chief security executive Joe Sullivan and another executive, Craig Clark, were fired for their involvement in the incident. It is unclear if he informed the legal department of the breach.

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