57 Million Users Compromised in Uber Leak: Protect Your Digital Privacy and Identity

Tips & Advice

“I’ll just Uber home.” 

Who hails a taxi anymore? These days, city streets are full of double-parked sedans with their hazards on, looking for their charges. Uber is synonymous with ridesharing and has made it so far into our culture that it’s not just a company name but a verb.  

Uber’s reputation has ebbed and flowed since its creation in 2009, and it’s taken another hit recently as more details are coming to light about a massive 2016 cybersecurity breach and the chief security officer’s attempts to cover it up.  

What Happened in the 2016 Uber Breach?

In 2016, a ransomware group trawled the internet and gathered Uber’s credentials that opened the door into the company’s server database. The cybercriminals then stole the information of customers and drivers alike and held it for a $100,000 Bitcoin ransom. Joe Sullivan, Uber’s chief security officer at the time, paid the ransom and the criminal group agreed to delete the information they uncovered. While it’s not uncommon for large corporations to give in to cybercriminals and dole out huge ransom payments, Sullivan is facing potential jail time because he didn’t report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission. He was recently found guilty of wire fraud and concealing a felony from authorities.  

Uber account holders had their personally identifiable information in nefarious hands without their knowledge. The cybercriminals allegedly downloaded the names, email addresses and phone numbers of 57 million Uber customers and drivers, plus the license plate numbers of 600,000 drivers.1  

Why It’s Important for Companies to Report Leaks

Organizations have a responsibility to their customers to report any cyberbreaches. With a full name, email address, and phone number, cybercriminals can inflict a lot of damage on an innocent person’s credit, steal money from online accounts, or invade someone’s digital privacy. Customers must act swiftly to put the proper safeguards in place, but they can’t do that if they don’t even know a breach has happened! The longer a cybercriminal has to poke and prod someone’s digital footprint, the more havoc they can wreak and profits they can gain. 

How to Protect Your Personal Information Before and After a Breach 

Acting swiftly is key to keeping your personally identifiable information (PII) private after a breach, though there are a few measures you can take right now that could prevent your information from being compromised. Here’s what you can do before and after a breach. 

Preventive measures

One way to shrink your attack surface – or the number of possible entry points into your digital life – is to regularly vet your online accounts and apps. For example, when you’re cleaning your closet, it’s common to donate or trash any clothing you haven’t worn in a year. The same method works for your digital life. If you haven’t logged into a shopping site or mobile gaming app in over a year, it’s unlikely that you will use them anytime soon, so it’s time to say goodbye and delete it. 

McAfee credit lock and security freeze are other preventive measures that can keep your credit safe in case your PII is ever compromised. These services make it easy to prevent one or all three major credit bureaus from accessing your credit. In turn, this prevents anyone other than you from opening a bank account, applying for a loan, or making a substantial purchase. If you’re not planning on needing a credit report, it’s a great practice to freeze your credit. 

Reactive measures

When you first hear of a company’s data leak with which you have an account, the first step you should take is to change your account password. Login and password combinations are often compromised in a data breach. Make sure your new password is strong and is not a duplicate of a password you use elsewhere. 

Next, consider running a Personal Data Cleanup scan. Personal Data Cleanup checks risky data broker sites and alerts you if your information appears on any of them. From there, you can take steps to remove your information. 

Finally, for the next few weeks, keep close tabs on your financial, online, and email accounts. Watch for suspicious activities like purchases you didn’t make, electronic receipts, notifications, or mailing lists that you didn’t sign up for. McAfee+ Ultimate can help you here with its identity monitoring and full-service Personal Data Cleanup. McAfee+ gives you a partner to alert you and help you recover if your digital privacy is compromised. 

Constant Vigilance and Digital Confidence-Boosting Assets

Protecting your identity and digital privacy is a two-way street. While identity and privacy protection tools go a long way, individuals also have a responsibility to remain vigilant and take quick action if they suspect their information is compromised. And the ultimate responsibility lies with companies to alert the authorities and their customers after a data leak and to take serious steps to shore up their security to make sure it never happens again. 

1The Verge, “Former Uber security chief found guilty of covering up massive 2016 data breach 

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