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Uber Has A Security Problem And This Facebook Vet Wants To Fix It

Joe Sullivan served as Facebook’s head of security for six years–until Uber poached him.

Uber Has A Security Problem And This Facebook Vet Wants To Fix It
[Photo: Flickr user Robbie Sproule]

With growth as explosive as Uber’s, there inevitably comes growing pains: disgruntled workers, PR whoopsies, even legal challenges to the company’s very ability to operate. And for any technology-based startup, there’s an inevitable one: security breaches.

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Photo: via Twitter

Uber knows it has a security problem and is apparently very serious about addressing it. Today, they hired longtime Facebook security chief Joe Sullivan away from the social networking giant, according to The New York Times. Sullivan will serve as Uber’s first-ever chief security officer.

The timing couldn’t be better. Earlier this week, it was revealed that some Uber users may have been fraudulently charged for rides they never took or requested. Uber has been issuing refunds and investigating the issue, which they don’t believe is the result of a security breach on their end. Apparently somebody has been selling functional Uber accounts on the dark web, according to Motherboard, which could be related to the situation.

It’s not the first time something like this has happened. In February, Uber revealed that a breach of its database in late 2014 had exposed the names and driver’s license numbers of 50,000 of its drivers.

Sullivan comes to the $40 billion ride-hailing service with more than six years of security experience at the world’s biggest social network. Before that job, he served as a lawyer at Facebook specializing in privacy law and legal issues related to security, a role similar to the one he filled at PayPal prior to joining Facebook. That’s quite the tech-industry resume.

Sullivan’s job switch comes as the war over top talent in Silicon Valley is heating up and Uber is quickly becoming a rival to giants like Facebook and Google when it comes to attracting talent. In August 2014, Uber hired former Obama adviser and campaign manager David Plouffe to head up policy and communications, a role that only gets more crucial as Uber expands and tries to dodge PR bullets on what now feels like a weekly basis.

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About the author

John Paul Titlow is a writer at Fast Company focused on music and technology, among other things. Find me here: Twitter: @johnpaul Instagram: @feralcatcolonist

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