Online Sense is ICDL Arabia's philanthropic arm aimed at raising public awareness on Cyber Safety.

The Dubai-based cab-hailing app Careem shocked its users by revealing this week that it became the victim of a data breach early this year. This news should concern you if you registered for this service any time before January 2014 by sharing your personal details, because the data of Careem users who registered before this period has been stolen.

You must consider this a threat to your privacy as the data stolen by hackers includes Email addresses, names, phone numbers and trip information.

While Careem says there is no evidence of hackers stealing passwords or credit card information, it’s advisable that you take necessary measures such as changing your Careem password (and passwords of other online accounts if it is the same as your Careem password), and block your card. Yes, it might cause the inconvenience of waiting for a new card, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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The breach that involved access to Careem’s data storage system for 14 million riders and 558,800 drivers (called captains), hasn’t yet led to any reports case of fraud or misuse so far, according to Careem.

Careem noticed this hacking incident in January this year, but it had not revealed the breach due to an ongoing internal investigation. The company also said that during this time it has worked towards strengthening its security systems.

Careem reportedly waited until now to inform its customers about this, stating, “We wanted to make sure we had the most accurate information before notifying people.”

While the cab-hailing app claims that it takes the protection of its customers and captains’ data “very seriously,” an incident like this raises concerns about the safety of users’ data held by other such apps in the region.

Hope this statement from Careem reassures its users who registered after January 2014, “We have a team of leading cybersecurity experts who have been working with external security firms to constantly monitor our systems, build and enhance our security fences, and react immediately to potential threats. In addition, we are working with law enforcement agencies.”

Currently, Careem is operational in 90 cities from 13 countries, and is considered as one of the top ride-hailing apps in MENA, Turkey and Pakistan.