Ex-Uber CSO Paid $100,000 in Bitcoin to Hackers To Hide Massive 2016 Data Breach

The former chief security officer of Uber, Joseph Sullivan, has been charged with “Obstruction of Justice” for trying to cover up the 2016 hack of Uber Technologies according to a press release by the United States Department of Justice (D.O.J.).

As stated in the announcement, Sullivan allegedly took deliberate steps to prevent the Federal Trade Commission (F.T.C.) from getting to know about the colossal data breach in 2016. 

The complaint revealed that Sullivan had sought to pay the hackers off by channeling the payment through a bug bounty program. The program involves a third-party intermediary that would arrange the payment to some hackers called ‘white hat’ hackers who point out security issues but have not compromised data.

Between 2015 to 2017, when Sulivan was still with Uber, two hackers had contacted him. They demanded a six-figure payment so that they would not disclose that they accessed a database that store personal information for some 57 million Uber drivers and users.

The D.O.J. deemed the payoff as a collaborative effort to conceal, deflect, and mislead the Federal Trade Commission (F.T.C.) about the breach. Sulivan had the hackers sign non-disclosure agreements regarding the theft, even though the hackers never gave their real names.

It was only following a probe by law enforcement that Uber identified the two hackers. In October 2019, they pleaded guilty in the Northern District of California and now await sentencing.

Meanwhile, the complaint made by D.O.J. still alleges that Sulivan had always bribed hackers to remain silent over fraudulent actions during his tenure as the Chief Security Officer. In a yet to be scheduled federal court appearance, the ex-Uber C.S.O. faces two charges: obstruction of justice, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1505; and misprision of a felony, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 4.

In a similar development, Coinfomania reported earlier this month that Travel behemoth, CWT paid $4.5 million in Bitcoin as a ransom to hackers to regain access to its sensitive hijacked computer files.

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