Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Yandex Taxi created a chaotic traffic jam in Moscow

Yandex Taxi: Russian taxi app hacked, and all cabs sent to the same location

The largest taxi service in Russia, Yandex Taxi, was hacked, causing traffic chaos in the center of Moscow.

A group of hackers gained access to Yandex’s system and asked taxi drivers to all head to the same spot in the Russian capital, on Kutuzovsky Street, in the Victory Park area.

Most of the taxi drivers responded to the call; however, once they got there, they realized that no customer had called a taxi through the app.

As a result, pandemonium was caused in the streets of the Russian capital, and scenes of absolute chaos unfolded.

Yandex Taxi is a Russian app like Uber that allows customers to order taxis to their locations, and it is considered among the most popular apps in the country.

Yandex Taxi

The company confirmed the incident in a statement. “On the morning of September 1, Yandex Taxi encountered an attempt by attackers to disrupt the service — several dozen drivers received bulk orders to the Fili region,” Yandex Taxi noted. “Drivers still spent about 40 minutes in traffic jams due to fake orders. The issue of compensation will be resolved in the near future”.

As the company pointed out, its security department immediately stopped attempts to order taxis artificially. However, as it turned out, this was not enough to control the traffic jam. Yandex Taxi emphasized that to block similar breaches in the future, “the algorithm to detect and prevent such attacks has already been improved.”

yandex taxi
Yandex Taxi website

Who is behind the attack?

So far, it is unclear who is responsible for the hacking attack. However, the Twitter page called “Anonymous TV” claims that the Anonymous collective is behind the breach. As the Twitter page noted, “Moscow had a stressful day yesterday. The Anonymous collective hacked the largest taxi service in Russia’ Yandex Taxi’. A traffic jam took place in the center of Moscow when hackers sent dozens of taxis to the address on Kutuzovsky Prospekt”. The same source claims that the attack is part of a more extensive hacking campaign against Russia, dubbed ‘OpRussia.’

As Oleg Shakirov, Russia’s cyber policy expert, underlined, hackers likely bypassed the company’s security measures by creating multiple fake orders that prompted drivers to go to the same location simultaneously. “A Watch Dog-type hack in Moscow: multiple fake orders through Yandex Taxi caused a traffic jam on the Kutuzovsky Prospekt that reportedly lasted btw 40 minutes and 2 hours. Yandex confirmed this was caused by attackers attempting to disrupt the service,” he wrote on Twitter.

Back in June, Yandex had dealt with severe technical issues. At that time, customers complained that they could not call a taxi when placing an order in Moscow and the regions. The company had managed to restore its services, and it promised to “make every effort to prevent this from happening again.” No word is yet on whether June’s technical issue is related to any attempted breach. However, in recent months other Russian companies have experienced similar attacks, with the hackers either revealing their details or maintaining their anonymity.

George Mavridis
George Mavridis
George Mavridis is a freelance journalist and writer based in Greece. He graduated from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki with a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication. Also, he holds an MA in Media and Communication Studies from the Malmö University of Sweden and an MA in Digital Humanities from the Linnaeus University of Sweden. His work primarily covers tech, innovation, social media, digital communication, and politics.

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