Saturday, 2 April 2016

Why we shelved Uber updates

Did you know that there's a beer called Hacker?
An interesting thing happened on the way to this month's Uber news update post: Blogger got hacked.  Better said, Blogger posts about Uber got hacked. Something like that.

As there are a lot of Uber stories in the news each month, so about 6 months ago we gave up trying to stay on top of developments (not really our focus anyways), and switched to a monthly summary of the previous month's most notable news, posted on the 1st or 2nd of the month.

About a week ago, I began building the Uber news recap - March 2016, collecting stories, buiding links, and so on.

In the process, I was intrigued to learn the news about Uber's challenge to hackers, offering rich rewards to find bugs and issues in their software. Brilliant, I thought.

As I was gathering links on the best coverage of the initiative, I was dumbfounded to learn that Uber had backtracked, rolling back the amount of the rewards. Whaaatt?!? This was after the programming community had already started to work on the issues, racing each other to compete for the prize(s). Really, Uber? Are you really that stupid? Even I, a relatively non-techie observer on the sidelines was able to put 2 and 2 together: if you are a technology company, who are the last people you want to piss off? Hackers. And how could you make it worse? Draw your flaws to the attention of the hacker community, wave dollars in front of their eyes, then snap the purse shut. SNAP! I picture an alligator's jaws open wide, luring it's prey in, then snapping shut in a flash!

Stupid, stupid, STUPID!

All this while Uber is bleeding millions (or is it billions?) in Asia, chasing a market that's so far eluding it. Maybe Uber's resources would be better spent getting its house in order, maybe it should have honoured its offer to the hackers (jeez, ya think?!?!?).

So, it was with amusement last week that I discovered that my March Uber news recap - once written, with links to stories all about the lure and the misstep - wouldn't save properly. I got an error message, and my post preview looked weird. When I looked at the HTML for the post, I could clearly see it had been hacked. Or maybe there was a virus on Blogger designed to attack posts about Uber, or maybe this story. Whatever it was, the code was a huge, unfixable mess, with links garbled wherever Uber was mentioned. "Ah, and so it begins," I thought.

Hacking a blog website to mess up stories is, I'm sure, child's play to a hacker. But it sure makes me wonder what will, or could, come next for Uber, as it has made itself so vulnerable to its newly created enemies.

Editor: In the end, we decided that our news recaps weren't adding much value, so just decided to drop them, and devote our blogspace to other things, but thought we'd share our thinking, our experince and predictions. And, we're posting this story, sans links, to hopefully be less likely to be hacked.

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