Former Uber CSO Joe Sullivan and lessons learned from the infamous 2016 Uber breach

Like most CSOs, Joe Sullivan was drawn to the role to help prevent cybercrimes. His role as CSO of Uber was something of a shift from his previous job prosecuting cybercriminals as an assistant US attorney, but closer to the tip of the cybersecurity spear. As a top-level professional in the business of defending against the bad guys, it was unexpected and not a little ironic that he would find himself on the other side of the justice system.

On May 4, 2023, Sullivan was sentenced to three years of probation for felony obstruction and misprision for not reporting a 2016 breach at rideshare and delivery company Uber that threatened to expose the data of 600,000 drivers and the personal information associated with 57 million riders. In an interview with CSO, Sullivan said he’s less concerned with his personal fate than the possibility that the entire episode will cause CISOs to become more concerned about protecting themselves from aggressive prosecution than protecting their organizations.

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