Hacked Taxi Mobile Apps in Kenya

Some time in late 2017 a top executive of Mondo taxi mobile phone application made an abrupt travel plan for Nairobi. The trip was not pleasure to see great migration at the maasai mara but rather as a firefighting mission.

The Mondo Taxi application systems had been hacked by clever IT fellows in Kenya. The hack was a scam that involved a few drivers that had signed up with the application and the IT experts. The drivers would essentially earn money from none existing trips. All they had to do is switch on their phones and the boys algorithm takes over by creating the rides using fake people, fake pick ups and drop offs. The share would be 85% for the driver since they take more risk and 15% for the hackers.

For Mondo this was obviously not good thus the hurriedly planned trip for one of its top executives. In Nairobi the mission was two pronged; first to stop the haemorrhage and possibly pay off the hackers and two to know the boys (they could also be girls) managed to hack their system. The pay off is speculated to have been $50,000 or Kshs 5 million. The firm may have lost a sizeable amount of its revenues from this group of people depending on how long they were on it.

While Mondo was firefighting this Ubber had called on the hackers and were negotiating with them. Ubber sort find out where the weakness were in their systems from the hackers and ofcourse a payout must have been dished out

For this group of people Mondo was not the only mobile taxi application that has been hacked and loosing money. Taxify, Ubber, littleride and the others have been victims of this syndicate. Littleride was they easiest system to hack for the syndicates since it offers a relatively week firewall. For this firms having this information in the public is damaging for their reputation.

In Kenya firms are said to have lost Kshs 17 billion to hacking syndicates and cyber crime in 2016 with this figure more likely to rise as hackers perfect their skills. On average telecos like safaricom, airtel, telkom experience over 60,000 hacking attempts in a month. Our banks don’t fair well either with cases of hacking on the rise. Cooperative Bank of Kenya was a recent victim of hack that involved a crafty individual that made a programme to deposit only cents of any transaction into one account. Not shillings but just cents. So imagine how many transactions will involve the odd 20, 50, 99 cents in a day for the bank. And you cannot forget the Kenya Revenue Authority hack.

In short hackers are always ahead of their game ever devising new ways to steal. However this should not stop people developing apps or using banks. It is the nature of our world that people will always device ways to steal or profit from what isn’t theirs. While it may be manmade so easily breached building on better security and stronger firewalls will suffice and hopefully reduce the haemorrhage.

As for Mondo, Ubber, Taxify, Littleride and the others, they are still in business and hopefully will continue to be in business.