Uber used remote computer system to shield data from police raids

Dianna Christensen
January 15, 2018

(Khosrowshahi reportedly fired Sullivan after he learned that the security chief had spearheaded the effort to pay off hackers responsible for the massive 2016 data breach.) "Like every company with offices around the world, we have security procedures in place to protect corporate and customer data", Uber said in a statement to Bloomberg.

Uber, like many companies that operate internationally, uses software to remotely disable its employees' laptops and smartphones. Bloomberg also points out that other companies in the past have shut off computers ahead of raids so they could carefully read the warrant and learn exactly which materials were being requested. The Quebec tax authority arrived at the ride-hailing company's local office unannounced with a warrant. "That's the only unusual thing here to me", he said, pointing out that most companies will use very common end-point management software. But as he works to rebrand Uber in the eyes of the public and set the company back on track, he continues to uncover new messes that Kalanick left behind, including regulatory threats to Uber's business overseas, and a major data breach made worse by former employees' efforts to hide it.

Should law enforcement show up to raid any of its offices overseas, managers had been instructed to page a number to warn staff at Uber's San Francisco headquarters, according to a report Thursday by Bloomberg News.

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The use of this tool raises questions for Uber simply because there is now a growing list of eyebrow-raising technological tactics the company has employed during its meteoric rise from Bay Area phenomenon to global powerhouse over the past nine years. Do's include cooperating with the authorities and disclosing requested documents.

As for software like Ripley, Prey or uLocker, Uber said there's nothing secretive about it. The tool allows Uber to show enforcement officers worldwide a fake version of its application, Greyball was part of a program called VTOS, short for "violation of terms of service", which Uber created to root out people it thought were using or targeting its service improperly. Following another raid in Paris the same week, Uber's then general counsel Salle Yoo instructed employees to install encryption software that logged off computers after 60 seconds of inactivity.

The company said it removed all Greyball tags in Portland back in April 2015 and has not used them since. It's basically the same software someone would use if they lost their smartphone.

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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