Uber Fires Key Security Staff Over Handling Of 2016 Hack

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Ridesharing giant Uber has revealed that it was hit by a data breach that put the personal information of 57 million customers and drivers in hackers’ hands back in 2016, and it has fired chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, over the way that the breach was handled, along with one other individual who reportedly had a key role in deciding how the company would respond. Uber’s press release about the subject is a bit light on information about how exactly the hack was handled, aside from the fact that regulatory authorities and affected individuals were not properly notified, and protocol was not fired. According to a report from Bloomberg, Uber paid the individuals who had the data $100,000 to delete it without backing it up or redistributing it, then simply keep silent about the incident.

The data breach was carried out by two people, and did not target Uber’s own corporate infrastructure. Instead, they went after data stored on a third-party cloud service, and were able to successfully download details like names and phone numbers for somewhere around 57 million users, with around 600,000 of those users being drivers, whose driver’s license data was also downloaded. Though the company did take steps to protect the stolen data, those steps including hiding the incident so well that current CEO Dara Khosrowshahi just learned of the attack. Khosrowshahi immediately took decisive action, firing the individuals responsible for the handling of the breach, providing free credit monitoring and fraud protection to affected drivers, and notifying regulatory authorities, the public, and all affected individuals. 

This is far from the first time that the way former CEO Travis Kalanick handled things came back to bite the current CEO. Kalanick apparently found out about the breach in November of 2016, only a month after it happened. This comes on the heels of Khosrowshahi having to deal with a lawsuit with Google’s Waymo over stolen trade secrets, and the aftershock of the company culture scandal that Kalanick was at the center of. Kalanick stepped down and left the company in the middle of that scandal, leaving the company scrambling to find a new CEO. Khosrowshahi eventually stepped up, and swore to change Uber’s internal culture and its approach to its drivers and customers.