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Uber’s massive security breach: Company faces probes, questions galore

Uber's Massive Security Breach: Company Faces Probes, Questions Galore

A day after scandal-plagued Uber admitted it covered up for a year a data breach affecting 57 million and fired its chief security officer security questions abound. Among the regulators who have opened investigations or are poking around: officials in Britain, Italy, Holland, Australia and the Philippines, according to various reports. An Uber spokesperson told Reuters1 the company has been in touch with several state Attorney General Offices . The New York State AG has reportedly opened an investigation . And U.S .

lawmakers are urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate. Uber s failure to disclose the breach was probably illegal in U.S . states that have data-breach laws (most of them), although the notification requirements vary, the Wall Street Journal2 points out.

Get tech news in your inbox weekday mornings. Sign up3 for the free Good Morning Silicon Valley newsletter.

Can Uber be trusted ? After all, the San Francisco company paid the hackers $100,000 to delete the data including personal information about drivers and passengers they accessed, and to keep quiet about the breach, according to Bloomberg4 . Uber just disclosed what happened Tuesday, a year after the hack occurred.

That s a million-dollar question, said Jeff Nolan, chief marketing officer of Irvine-based enterprise security firm SecureAuth, in a phone interview Wednesday . He noted that there have been so many data breaches that consumers seem to have become immune to them or maybe they don t care.

But this is not Uber s first security-related misstep . In fact, Bloomberg reports that at the time of the big hack, late 2016, the company was in talks with U.S . regulators about a separate instance of privacy violations . In August, Uber settled with the FTC5 over God view, a controversial program the company used to track riders locations, and a 2014 data breach . Under the settlement, Uber s privacy practices must be reviewed by an outside auditor every two years for 20 years. However, Nolan said the reaction by Uber s new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, is good crisis communication : He demanded CSO Joe Sullivan s resignation and fired an aide to Sullivan, Tony West, according to reports.

As Uber s CEO, it s my job to set our course for the future, which begins with building a company that every Uber employee, partner and customer can be proud of, Khosrowshahi said in a blog post6 Tuesday .

For that to happen, we have to be honest and transparent as we work to repair our past mistakes. He said the company is notifying the affected drivers, whose names and driver s license information were compromised, and regulators . He also said he has brought in Matt Olsen, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center under President Obama and general counsel for the National Security Agency, to help think through the company s future security processes. Khosrowshahi said in the blog post that he recently found out about the cover-up but did not specify when . When reached by SiliconBeat Wednesday, an Uber spokeswoman said the company had no additional comment beyond the CEO s blog post.

The company s latest scandal comes as it tries to secure an investment from SoftBank, the Japanese conglomerate that s said to considering buying a stake in Uber worth up to $10 billion . The company is also still dealing with the aftermath of complaints about sexual harassment and a sexist workplace culture, which were factors that led to the departure of CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick . He remains on the company s board of directors .

Khosrowshahi became chief executive at the end of August.

Photo: Outside Uber offices on Market Street in San Francisco in 2014. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

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  5. ^ Uber settled with the FTC (
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Richard Jordan: Theatres risk alienating audiences with aggressive security checks

Who are the most important people working each night in the theatre ? The box office, ushers, actors and bar staff. They are the people an audience will interact with when they go to see a show and therefore are crucial to the theatregoing experience. It’s sad that in today’s troubling times, we now have to also add to this list the security guard at the door of the theatre.

Last January, I wrote about the visible security presence on Broadway.1 This may serve as an attempt for audience reassurance but I frequently think the theatre bag check is also as much about stopping soft drinks from outside being taken into the theatre. I would hate to think that the risk of terrorism has become used as an excuse to also help boost the theatre’s own takings at the bar. Over the past few years, I have reluctantly accepted that security checks are an inevitable part of the theatregoing experience.

But accepting that leads to the security guards effectively becoming the face of the theatre for audiences . It’s therefore vital that they combine their security duties with a warm welcome. After the recent terrorist attacks in London, theatres adopted a stringent security policy . The National Theatre effectively became a fortress, reduced to just two entrances.

Its friendly and well-informed security guards were placed on duty to check the bags of anyone entering the building . It caused some hassle and often long queues but was well-managed by a friendly and welcoming team. Over the river in the West End, security guards are being deployed across Theatreland, but with a frequent lack of customer care, which risks doing the theatres and their dedicated staff a huge disservice. Last Saturday I saw Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Apollo Theatre, and a few weeks earlier Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre.

Nimax, which runs both these theatres and four others in the West End, has some of the best front-of-house staff . When you visit one of its theatres, you genuinely feel that everyone is a valued part of the team and cares passionately about the theatre and production. So it was disappointing to observe and experience an unnecessarily aggressive attitude by the theatre’s security staff greeting the arriving audiences. They could not have cared less about that evening s show and did not know the answers to simple questions, such as what time the performance finished.

But at Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the behaviour of the security staff at end of the performance that particularly troubled me . Standing dead centre in the lobby, and looking menacing with arms firmly folded, was a security guard whose position forced patrons leaving to walk around him. As the most visible staff person, audience members were naturally asking him questions, none of which he was able to answer; instead he responded with an attitude of annoyance at even being asked.

“Where are you going?” he barked at an audience member who had come out into the lobby looking for the toilet and needed to go back down to the stalls . Have you seen the performance?” he went on to ask, even though they were clearly holding the programme.

Meanwhile, I had gone past him to pick up a leaflet for the next show only to be challenged as to what I was doing. Standing by the wall and less immediately noticeable, was the front-of-house manager . I went over to comment at this security guard s behaviour and how little information he and his colleagues were able to provide about the show. She was pleasant and helpful and explained that the security staff were contracted to the theatre .

That meant they were not part of the theatre s staff and the theatre did not know they were going to be there on any given night. Had I not spoken to her, I’d have simply assumed as most of the audience probably did that because of their visible presence they were core members of the theatre’s staff. The security guard is obviously there to do a specific job . But the contractor s approach must be to adapt their staff into the environment of their workplace.

At the same time, the theatres who are contracting them need to ensure a greater level of training and integration to the same excellent level of customer care that awaits the audience once they have entered the building. The theatregoing experience has significantly changed in recent months . Today it begins not when you step into the theatre but instead when you open your bag for inspection outside it . These organisations must take care not to risk making audiences feel devalued.

How you end a performance is as important as how you begin it . The sight of security guards and bag checks at our theatres is here to stay, but one of the purposes of terrorism is to stop people enjoying their everyday activities. Therefore, if audiences continue to defy the threat and keep coming, then for theatres future, the whole experience must be truly great from start to finish.


  1. ^ I wrote about the visible security presence on Broadway. (

Theatres across UK step up security in wake of Manchester bombing

Theatres around the UK have ramped up security in the face of heightened threat levels, with venues enforcing stricter bag checks and restricting access to their buildings. It follows advice that theatres should ensure their staff and buildings are prepared to deal with an attack, after the bombing in Manchester on May 22 that killed 22 people. The National Theatre in London confirmed it has put enhanced security measures in place including restricted access to the building and bag searches . The theatre is advising audiences to arrive earlier for shows to allow for extra time to carry out increased security measures.

The Royal Shakespeare Company has also stepped up its security in Stratford-upon-Avon, with bag checks at all performances and a small-bags-only policy for entry into the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Swan Theatre.

We will continue to be vigilant, as we know every one of us plays a role in keeping people safe from harm, and will continue to offer our warmest welcome to visitors, and to ensure that everyone is as safe and secure as possible, a spokeswoman for the RSC said. On May 27, the Old Vic Theatre in London was evacuated during a performance of Woyzeck, starring John Boyega, after a security alert was raised. A statement from the theatre said: Audience safety is our priority and on the afternoon of Saturday May 27 we evacuated the Old Vic as a precaution . The incident was found not to be suspicious and following Met Police advice, the evening performance went ahead as planned.”

The Old Vic s increased security measures include introducing additional security guards, while it will continue to search all bags, conduct security checks of the building and the perimeter and drill exercises for members of staff.

The UK s threat level was increased to critical in the wake of the Manchester attack, and reduced back to severe on May 27. Performances at major Manchester venues continued the day after the attack, however enhanced security has been put in place. Sheena Wrigley, executive director of Home, said it had decided against implementing bag checks, but more security staff were in attendance and 24-hour site security had been implemented .

Staff have also been briefed about increased vigilance. Following the attack, advice sent out by the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre the membership organisations representing theatres and producers in the capital and the rest of the UK recommends theatres review events taking place over the next 20 days and any high-profile attendees. Among other recommendations for venues are ensuring first-aid points are fully stocked and made clear to staff, and raising awareness on the full range of attack methods to include vehicles, knives and suicide bombers.

Venues are also being asked to ensure security staff are vigilant and proactive in monitoring their area for suspicious activity, to try to minimise crowds and to be aware of who is arriving and leaving the premises. Theatres are also being advised to pay extra attention to areas around exits, especially when staff and audiences are leaving. HQ Theatres, which operates 12 venues around the UK on behalf of local authorities, confirmed that it had reviewed its safety procedures, emergency planning frameworks and event-specific security measures, all of which were already in place.

Operations director Alvin Hargreaves said some procedures had been enhanced following the Manchester attack, and the company had reviewed pre and post-show access to buildings as well as looking at the daytime operation of theatres.

You re looking for practical measures, but you re also looking for measures that give the public reassurance . That s a tricky balance to get right sometimes, Hargreaves said. Ambassador Theatre Group, which operates more than 30 venues across the UK, including the West End, confirmed to The Stage that security measures at its theatres had also been stepped up, including bag checks.

Key recommendations:

  • Ensure staff and buildings are prepared to deal with an attack
  • Encourage security staff to be vigilant and proactive in monitoring business areas for suspicious activity
  • Work together with nearby businesses to ensure shared areas are protected
  • Try to minimise crowds and be aware of who is coming in and out of premises
  • Keep buildings secure where appropriate
  • Pay attention to areas around exits, especially when large numbers of staff and customers are due to leave
  • Be proactive in telling audience members around changes to procedure, advising them not to bring large bags and allow more time to enter venues