How the Uber Data Breach Could Have Been Prevented

Background on the Uber Breach

History is replete with examples of individuals and organizations turning manageable problems into serious crises simply by trying to hide the truth.

While the Uber data breach was large in terms of the 57M customer and driver records lost, if Uber had followed standard breach protocol by notifying authorities and impacted users, remediated the problem and laid out steps that they were taking to avoid future breaches, the impact would have been much less. Uber was under a legal obligation to notify regulators and to the impacted users and drivers. Instead they took extreme measures to hide the hack, paying $100k to the hackers to remain quiet and actively took steps to keep the truth under wraps.

How It Happened

We know that the two attackers accessed a GitHub coding site used by Uber software engineers, found a set of login credentials, and used those credentials to access and infrastructure account that handled computing tasks for the company. Within that infrastructure, the attackers discovered the archive of rider and driver information.

And while the cover-up is making the headlines, this hack was utterly preventable. Unfortunately, companies continue to rely on a system of trust. Trust that a simple username and password is enough to know who is accessing their network and systems. Trust that perimeter security has eliminated all of the bad actors within the network. And trust that once on the network or system that the user should have access to any data or commands.

How It Could Have Been Prevented

A simple password is simply not enough. The time has come to no longer trust in too-easily stolen passwords for ensuring that users are who they say they are.

Instead, now is the time to move to a zero-trust approach that only grants access to services based on what we know about the user and their device. A zero-trust stance that ensures all access to services must be authenticated, authorized and encrypted.

Only then will these utterly preventable hacks start to subside.

Learn more about Centrify’s  Zero Trust Security Model here