Uber used software to remotely lock employee computers, alter passwords to thwart authorities globally: report
12 January 2018
Ride hailing app, Uber used software, which could remotely lock or change the passwords on employees' computers and smartphones, Bloomberg reported.
Ripley, the name of the software, took reportedly took its name form Sigourney Weaver's character in the 1979 sci-fi movie "Alien".
Ripley allowed Uber's team at its San Francisco headquarters to shut down a device if necessary. Uber used it at least two dozen times in situations with authorities in foreign countries, according to Bloomberg.
According to Uber it no longer uses Ripley because it was not effective and now uses an off-the-shelf software called Prey and another type of software it built called uLocker. According to Uber the software is necessary to protect company data, along with the privacy of passengers, drivers and Uber employees.
Uber has had a history of run-ins with government regulators and has been in trouble with authorities across the US, Europe, Canada, Latin America and Asia for violating local laws and rolling out its service without first asking permission. But the company maintains with regards to Ripley, it was in the right.
"Like every company with offices around the world, we have security procedures in place to protect corporate and customer data," an Uber spokeswoman said. "When it comes to government investigations, it's our policy to cooperate with all valid searches and requests for data."
Uber used Ripley during a raid in Montreal in May 2015, according to Bloomberg. The Quebec tax authority arrived at the ride-hailing company's local office unannounced with a warrant.
Uber's on-site managers followed protocol and alerted company headquarters about what was happening.
Using Ripley, staff in San Francisco reportedly remotely logged off all employees' computers in Montreal. The investigators were said to have left empty handed.