Free parking app popular in Charlotte, other cities confirms user data breach – Charlotte Observer


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Drivers who use the popular ParkMobile app to find available public parking spaces in Charlotte and other cities across the country might have had some of their data breached, the company warned this week.

“Our investigation has confirmed that basic user information – license plate numbers and, if provided by the user, email addresses and/or phone numbers, and vehicle nicknames – was accessed,” ParkMobile officials posted on the company website Tuesday.

ParkMobile did not indicate how many users are affected by the data breach. However, there could be 21 million users affected, according to a report on the security website KrebsOnSecurity, which cited intelligence firm Gemini Advisory.

“In a small percentage of cases, mailing addresses were affected,” according to the ParkMobile alert. “No credit cards or parking transaction history were accessed, and we do not collect Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, or dates of birth.”

ParkMobile also allows drivers to make cashless payments for parking with their smartphones. The app is free to download, but there users pay a service charge for each parking session.

Signs for the app are posted all across Charlotte, as well as Atlanta, Washington and other cities.

A Charlotte Department of Transportation spokeswoman didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment by the Observer on Tuesday. The city began using the ParkMobile service in 2012, the Observer previously reported.

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ParkMobile TNS

Company officials said their investigation showed that encrypted passwords were accessed, “but not the encryption keys needed to read them.”

Users can choose to change their passwords in the settings section of the app or the online ParkMobileSettings page, officials said.

ParkMobile first alerted users to the breach on March 26, when, in a statement, the company said it “recently became aware of a cybersecurity incident linked to a vulnerability in a third-party software that we use.

“In response, we immediately launched an investigation with the assistance of a leading cybersecurity firm to address the incident. Out of an abundance of caution, we have also notified the appropriate law enforcement authorities.”

Officials said they’d taken “additional precautionary steps” at the time, including “eliminating the third-party vulnerability, maintaining our security and continuing to monitor our systems.”

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Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.

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