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Uber used bug bounty program to launder blackmail payment to hacker

08 December 2017, 12:57 | Megan Pierce

Hush Uber Paid Hacker $100K to Keep Quiet About Breach REUTERS Simon Dawson

Uber app on a mobile telephone as it is held up for a posed

Then-chief executive Travis Kalanick and chief security officer Joe Sullivan made the decision to pay the hackers and keep the breach a secret from its customers and drivers.

A 20-year-old Florida man was responsible for the data breach at Uber last year, and was paid $100,000 to destroy the information, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Uber was able to determine the hacker's identity by directing him through the bug bounty program, which is hosted by a company called HackerOne. Uber announced on November 21 that the personal data of 57 million users, including 600,000 drivers in the United States, were stolen in a breach that occurred in October 2016.

HackerOne's public statistics on the Uber bounty program show that Uber has paid out $1,289,595 in bounties over the life of the program so far, including one for the $10,000 maximum specified by Uber to a UK-based researcher for critical bugs. The program is usually used to reward those who find system vulnerabilities, and experts told Reuters that rewarding a thief was extremely unusual.

KitGuru Says: The Uber hack was clearly handled poorly, particularly since paying off data thieves encourages others to attempt the same thing.

If the payment was actually made via HackerOne bug bounty program, it was an unusual incident as it involved a hacker who stole data.

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CEO of HackerOne Marten Mickos commented that he could not talk about the programs of individual customers.

The second person was paid by the Florida-based hacker to, among other services, access Github, a site used by programmers to store code, in order to gain credentials to access Uber data, it added.

Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber's CEO, announced the breach last month and terminated two top security officials.

Khosrowshahi was hired amid concerns about the practices and ethics of previous members of the senior management team.

Furthermore, Reuters reports that "Uber made the payment to confirm the hacker's identity and have him sign a nondisclosure agreement to deter further wrongdoing".

At that time, Uber chief executive Data Khosrowshahi said: "None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it".



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