In February of this year, Uber announced a massive data breach that put the personal information of 50,000 of its drivers at risk. In response, they offered one year of fraud protection for the drivers involved and filed a lawsuit in a San Francisco federal court in an attempt to reveal those responsible.
This week Uber announced that they had traced the source of the breach. The court documents claim that an unidentified person using a Comcast IP address had access to a security key that was used in the breach. It was revealed that the IP address was traced back to Chris Lambert, the chief of technology at Lyft, Uber’s main rival.
Lyft spokesman Brandon McCormick said that they had already investigated the matter and found that “there is no evidence that any Lyft employee, including Chris, downloaded the Uber driver information or database, or had anything to do with Uber’s May 2014 data breach.”
Lawyers for the Comcast subscriber, whose name has not been released, contend that the web page containing the key used to access the information was publicly available, and that anyone could have visited the site without violating any laws. They also claimed that the data breach came from a different IP address.
McCormick of Lyft claims that “Uber allowed login credentials for their driver database to be publicly accessible for months before and after the breach.”
Uber and Lyft are the largest players in the fiercely competitive ride-hailing industry, and both have been accused of using nasty tactics against each other in the past. Last year Uber was accused of trying to poach Lyft drivers to come work for Uber. They would have an employee hail a Lyft ride, then during the ride would try to recruit the driver to come and work with them.
Uber was also accused by Lyft of ordering and then canceling 5,000 Lyft rides, which led to Uber turning around and accusing Lyft of cancelling 13,000 Uber rides. Uber is by far the larger of the two companies, valued at $51 billion and operating in 330 cities worldwide, compared to $2.5 billion for Lyft and 65 cities in the U.S.
Neither side has definitive proof of any of their accusations. It is clear though, that competition in the ride-hailing industry is becoming increasingly cutthroat, and neither of the two largest players seem afraid to get their hands dirty.