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January 27, 2020 Monday 03:38:10 PM IST

Cyber security and privacy risks for e-scooter users

Technology Inceptions

A new research out of UTSA finds e-scooters could face cyber security and privacy risks. The study finds that hackers can cause a series of attacks, including eavesdropping on users and even spoof GPS systems to direct riders to unintended locations. Vendors of e-scooters can suffer denial-of-service attacks and data leaks.

“We were already investigating the risks posed by these micromobility vehicles to pedestrians' safety. During that study, we also realized that besides significant safety concerns, this new transportation paradigm brings forth new cyber security and privacy risks as well," said Murtuza Jadliwala, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science who led this study.

“We've identified and outlined a variety of weak points or attack surfaces in the current ride-sharing, or micromobility, ecosystem that could potentially be exploited by malicious adversaries right from inferring the riders' private data to causing economic losses to service providers and remotely controlling the vehicles' behavior and operation," said Jadliwala.

Some e-scooter models communicate with the rider's smartphone over a Bluetooth Low Energy channel. Someone with malicious intent could eavesdrop on these wireless channels and listen to data exchanges between the scooter and riders' smartphone app by means of easily and cheaply accessible hardware and software tools such as Ubertooth and WireShark.


Those who sign up to use e-scooters also offer up a great deal of personal and sensitive data beyond just billing information. The study says that providers automatically collect other analytics, such as location and individual vehicle information. This data can be pieced together to generate an individual profile that can even include a rider's preferred route, personal interests, and home and work locations.  

(Source: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-01/uota-tge012320.php


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