OMAHA, Nebraska. Uber made the news about a year ago when it announced that it would pay freelance hackers money for each discovery of a bug in its system. While some praised the company’s use of freelance hackers as a cheap and comprehensive way to catch bugs, others were concerned about the fact that the company might be making its system vulnerable to hackers, putting sensitive driver and user information at risk. After all, if Uber’s system were to be hacked mid-ride, it could create a potentially dangerous distraction for drivers.
Tech Crunch recently reported that New York’s attorney general will investigate an alleged hack cover-up by Uber. The company allegedly paid hackers $100,000 to cover-up a data breach that affected as many as 57 million Uber users. USA Today reports that hackers stole the information of 57 million Uber users. Among the information stolen were names, phone numbers, and email addresses of Uber riders. 600,000 driver’s license numbers were also stolen. The hackers were paid to delete the stolen information and also asked to not publicize the hack.
The situation raises questions not only for public safety, but also about whether hackers were essentially ransoming private data for their own gain. Some also worry that Uber’s willingness to pay hackers such a high sum will only encourage future hacking efforts. Hacking can pose serious risks for public safety, especially as more aspects of our vehicles and lives become automated. Some researchers have found that autonomous functions on our vehicles can be at risk of being hacked. There have been reports of vehicles stalling in the middle of the road after being hacked. Both Uber and Google have been competing to improve autonomous vehicles. After all, if either company could cut drivers out of the equation, they serve to profit immensely.
Uber has faced public relations nightmares in recent months. Recently, the media reported that the company was storing information about riders’ whereabouts.
As more companies use the cloud to store private data, savvy hackers can find ways to access the data. As our technology infiltrates more areas of our lives, we will likely find that hacks can put more people at risk.
What can riders do to keep themselves safe? For one, consider the risk of distracted driving each and every time to use a ride hailing service. You have the right to have a distracted-free drive. Every year, thousands of people are killed and hundreds of thousands more are injured due to distracted drivers. Ride hailing services require that drivers use their phone. This doesn’t mean that a driver should be on his or her phone on the road. Review each company’s privacy statement and see if any significant data breaches have been reported. You have a right to call a company if you believe important data may have been stolen or compromised.
Finally, if you or a loved one has been injured in a ride hailing car service, consider your rights. Rensch & Rensch Law are personal injury lawyers in Omaha, Nebraska who work closely with victims and families to help them seek the compensation they may deserve under the law. Visit us at https://www.renschandrensch.com/ to learn more.