Uber discloses data breach that may have affected 50,000 drivers

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Uber suffered a data breach in 2014 that affected 50,000 Uber drivers across the U.S., the ride-sharing startup disclosed in a statement on Friday.

The company determined on September 17, 2014 that a third party could have accessed one of its databases. After Uber “changed the access protocols for the database” and looked into the situation, it learned through an investigation that someone apparently accessed one of its databases on May 13, 2014, wrote Katherine M Tassi, Uber’s managing counsel, privacy.

Supposedly, the information that may have been compromised included driver names and their driver license numbers, but the startup said that it is not aware of any “reports of actual misuse” of that data. The company said it will be contacting the drivers, issuing them memberships in identity-alert services and filing a lawsuit to obtain more information to learn who was the third party that accessed the database.

While this data breach is small compared to the mega breaches that affected JPMorgan Chase, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Anthem in recent months, it’s notable because it seems to be the first publicly known data breach affecting a ride-sharing service.

The data breach also highlights the importance of setting up proper identity management and access controls for a company’s infrastructure, something on which many security startups are concentrating their efforts. At this time, it’s unclear how an unauthorized party was able to access an internal database. However, it’s obvious that Uber will have to ensure better access-management policies for all points in its infrastructure if it wants to make its system less vulnerable to breaches.

The breach comes at a time when President Obama recently proposed a federal law that calls for companies to notify their customers within 30 days of the discovery of a hack. Uber’s discovery of its announced data breach appears to have fallen well outside the 30-day mark and as far as we know, only appears to have affected its own employees.

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