Home Security Lone attacker, 20, paid by Uber to delete hacked data

Lone attacker, 20, paid by Uber to delete hacked data

A lone 20-year-old attacker hacked into the ride-sharing firm Uber last year and was paid by the company to destroy the data through a bug-bounty programme. The hack exposed the data of 57 million users globally, plus the details of seven million Uber drivers.

A Reuters report said Uber's bug bounty programmes, normally used to reward researchers for the submission of information about flaws in a firm's software, was hosted by HackerOne, which also offers its platform to other technology companies.

The chief executive of HackerOne, Marten Mickos, is a well-known former chief executive of MySQL, the Finnish database company that was bought by Sun Microsystems and then became part of Oracle when it bought Sun.

Mickos said he could not discuss an individual customer's programmes. "In all cases when a bug bounty award is processed through HackerOne, we receive identifying information of the recipient in the form of an IRS W-9 or W-8BEN form before payment of the award can be made," he said.

The Uber hack was disclosed last month. The company's chief security officer Joe Sullivan and one of his deputies, Craig Clark, were sacked after both were found to have played a role in covering up the breach.

At that time, Uber chief executive Data Khosrowshahi said: ""None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it. We are changing the way we do business."

The report said there was no clue as to the identity of the attacker who was said to be from Florida. Uber spokesman Matt Kallman refused to comment.

As to who authorised the payment, nothing is known, apart from the fact that former Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick was aware of both the breach and the payout in November 2016.

Uber is said to have paid the money to confirm the attacker's identity and make him sign a non-disclosure agreement. The company also checked the man's machine to ensure that the data had been erased.

Uber suffered a data breach in 2014 as well and was discussing a settlement with the FTC while it haggled with the Florida hacker to keep the 2016 breach quiet.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.