On Tuesday, June 28, a federal judge stated that former security chief from Uber Technologies Inc. must face charges of wire fraud. This was over his alleged role in attempting to conceal a hacking from 2016 that exposed personal data of about 57 million passengers and drivers.
In December, the US Department of Justice had added the three charges against the former employee Joseph Sullivan. This was to an earlier indictment which stated that he was arranged to pay money to two hackers in exchange for them to not reveal anything about it. This was while they were attempting to hide the hacking from drivers, passengers and the US Federal Trade Commission.
US District Judge William Orrick rejected Sullivan’s claim in San Francisco. He claimed the prosecutors did not adequately accuse that he hid the hacking to make sure Uber drivers would not flee and would go on paying service fees. Additionally, the judge had rejected the former employee’s claim that the ones allegedly deceived were the then-chief executive of Uber, Travis Kalanicl, along with its general counsel, and not drivers.
“Those purported misrepresentations, though not made directly to Uber drivers, were part of a larger scheme to defraud them” according to the indictment, Orrick wrote.
Sullivan even faced two obstruction charges, and his lawyers are yet to acknowledge any requests made for a comment on the situation. Originally, the defendant was indicted in September 2020. Moreover, he is apparently the first corporate information security officer to be criminally charged with keeping a hacking under wraps.
According to the prosecutors, Sullivan even planned to the pay the hackers about $100,00 in bitcoin. Additionally, he got them to sign nondisclosure agreements that comprised the false statement that they had not taken part in stealing data.
Reportedly, the ride hailer even had a bounty programme which was mainly designed for rewarding security researchers for reporting flaws, and not for the cover up of data thefts. The present chief executive officer of the company, Dara Khosrowshahi, laid off the employee following him gaining the details regarding the extent of the operation.
The company, based in San Francisco, California, paid about $148 million for the settlement of claims in bitcoin in September 2018. The claims were mainly by all 50 states of the country, along with Washington D.C. that it was unnecessarily slow during the disclosure of the hacking.