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A company whose app allows New Yorkers to pay for parking meters without cash experienced a data breach recently that compromised users’ personal information.
ParkMobile acknowledged the breach on its website earlier this month after a tech blog reported the personal data of 21 million of its customers was being sold over the internet.
According to the KrebsonSecurity blog, the stolen data includes customer email addresses, phone numbers, license plate numbers, mailing addresses and “hashed passwords.”
ParkMobile has several small contracts with New York City, according to city records.
It and former city Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced last April that the city was encouraging drivers’ use of the app to reduce cash payments in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
”DOT is asking all New Yorkers who can to switch to Pay-By-Cell, which will reduce the need for physical cash transactions at our 14,000 parking meters,” Trottenberg, who now serves as the deputy secretary of transportation for President Biden, said at the time. “Contactless Pay-By-Cell reduces exposure risk for the public and our workforce.”
A statement released by the city at the time described ParkMobile as “the leading provider of smart parking and mobility solutions in North America.”
ParkMobile spokesman Jeff Perkins said Friday that the company first became aware of a cybersecurity incident in March.
“In response, we immediately launched an investigation with the assistance of a leading cybersecurity firm to address the incident. We quickly eliminated the third-party vulnerability, and we continue to maintain our security and monitor our systems,” he said. “Out of an abundance of caution, we also notified the appropriate law enforcement authorities.”
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Transportation Department spokesman Scott Gastel said the DOT is discussing the matter with ParkMobile.
“NYC Cyber Command is aware of this incident and is taking steps with DOT and ParkMobile to increase security and mitigate any impacts,” said City Hall spokeswoman Laura Feyer. “We recommend users change their password.”
The statement ParkMobile posted online on April 15 claims that its own probe of the data breach revealed license plate numbers, email addresses and phone numbers had been compromised, but that no credit card information was accessed.
“Encrypted passwords were accessed, but not the encryption keys required to read them,” the statement said. “We do not collect Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, or dates of birth.”
KrebsOnSecurity reported it learned about the breach from Gemini Advisory, an intelligence firm that monitors cybercrime forums. According to the website, Gemini identified a thread on a Russian-language forum that included ParkMobile account information.
Gemini did not respond to a message.
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