Blog Post

Pizza wars: police investigate delivery firm’s ‘cyberattack’

Who knew the German online takeaway delivery market could be so cut-throat?

An intriguing row has broken out which has led to police investigating the management of one such firm, following complaints of a “cyberattack” by a rival.

Lieferando, the smaller of the two firms, saw its systems fall prey to a denial-of-service (DoS) attack early last December. On the second day of the disruption, CEO Jörg Gerbig told me today, Lieferando filed a complaint against an “unknown party” and handed over its logfiles to the police.

It emerged on Sunday that, after four months of investigations, the police visited rival Lieferheld’s Berlin offices in connection with the attack. The company’s management is now under suspicion but, according to Der Spiegel, Lieferheld MD Fabian Siegel has described the idea of his company attacking a smaller rival as “totally absurd”.

Siegel also provided a possible explanation for Lieferando’s server logs pointing to Lieferheld. He said his company uses web crawlers to scan its rivals’ sites, in an attempt to compare their claims of restaurant affiliate numbers with the reality.

Cyberattack or harmless probe?

This, apparently, is standard practice. However, in a statement given to Deutsche Startups, Gerbig said such web crawling would not have been enough to knock over Lieferando’s systems.

The whole business has pretty much descended into name-calling, with Lieferando claiming industrial sabotage, and Lieferheld using the opportunity to question its rival’s honesty in reporting its own success.

I asked Lieferando to respond to the claim that the crawlers may have brought its servers down, but was told only that “we have to wait and see what police investigations bring to light”. No further comment was given, as it’s an ongoing investigation.

At least Lieferando is talking. I’ve tried multiple times to get in touch with Lieferheld over the accusations, but have had no reply.

I get the suspicion that we’ll be hearing more about this case in future.