Lately, when you read something about the peer-to-peer car service Uber, it might seem to take one of two forms: either someone in the company said or did something wrong, or there are tensions between the company and the cities in which it operates. But this time, it's Uber's drivers who've got the right to complain — Uber got hacked last May, compromising thousands of drivers' information. As detailed by USA Today, the company admitted Friday that an "unauthorized third party" got access to a company database and made off with information on nearly 50,000 current and past Uber drivers. And here's the kicker: they didn't even realize the breach happened until September, over four months later.
It's yet another stumbling block for the wildly successful tech startup, in a series of months that have seen one troubling headline pop up after another — issues of insurance liability when a pedestrian was killed by a driver, for example, or incredibly distressing, creepy comments made by Uber executive Emil Michael. To say nothing, of course, of the truly heinous.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the hack means that those 50,000 or so people now have their names and driver's license numbers in the hands of, well, who knows?
From Uber's perspective, this is probably (almost certainly) a less dire situation than if actual customer information had been compromised — companies are almost always going to prefer putting their employees through the wringer than damaging trust with their consumers — and in relative terms, the numbers aren't devastating. As Slate's Alison Griswold noted, recent corporate hacks have led to blaring headlines that dwarf the numbers Uber is looking at — the massive hack of Target customers' information in 2014, for example, which exposed nearly 40 million debit and credit card numbers.
Uber's drivers haven't even had their financial information compromised at this point, just their identification. Perhaps the most pressing question for the general public, however, is why it took so long for this information to come out. The kind of high-flying company that takes months to even notice their database was breached? That's precisely the sort of reputation Uber would rather avoid.
To this point, Uber is trying to mend fences with the affected drivers by offering a one-year subscription to an identity protection service, and it's filed a lawsuit in an attempt to track down the hacker. Here's hoping they succeed — living under the threat of identity theft is a deeply unpleasant experience.
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