Uber fights phishing with custom email IDS platform

Uber is proactively fighting phishing attacks by developing and implementing its own custom email intrusion detection systems (IDS).

The ride-sharing firm announced it is deploying its own intrusion detection solutions designed to analyze payloads in sandboxes where they can be safely checked before reaching an employee's inbox, according to a Dec. 22 blog post.

"The goal of the IDS is to drive operational benefits in price, extensibility, and performance, exercise full control over features and alerts so we can adjust to evolving threats in real time, to capture advanced insight for debugging intrusion alerts and email processing at Uber in general," the post said.

Uber touted the platform as being extensible, fast, reliable and cost effective boasting that it can reportedly alert on and delete phishing emails in under a minute of them landing in an employee's inbox.

Tripwire security researcher Lane Thames told SC Media this is an interesting step for Uber to take and that cybersecurity incidents have the ability to break a technology company's reputation along with the trust of its customers.

“If a company has adequate resources to build out their own unique security solutions, then kudos to them,” Thames said. “Sometimes “reinventing the wheel” is not a bad thing, especially when the organization has deeper insight into its own operations and data.”

Other researchers expressed how Uber's move signifies a gap in the functionality and architecture offered by vendors in the market.

“While Uber has clearly thought about the potential cost savings involved in making this switch, they now take on the maintenance burden of a full-fledged product with a market of one, Tripwire Senior Director of Product Management Tim Erlin told SC Media. “The development of a capability that's so tightly coupled to native services in AWS demonstrates a clear commitment to that platform. Uber is, de facto, making it harder for them to move to an alternative provider.”

FireMon Chief Technology Officer Paul Calatayud told SC Media that it appears Uber is building the service in a way to gain more control of its platform.

“The implications are that others will follow suit, so vendors of similar technologies need to take note of this demand and meet it with commercial offerings,” Calatayud said.  “Opening up the platforms commercially could also address the needs without having to build it yourself.” 

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