Grab: Modified apps used by drivers do not compromise passenger data

Grab has recently been in the headlines, with reports suggesting that driver-partners on the platform have been using modified versions of the Grab Driver app to gain an unfair advantage in gaining bookings. This supposedly gave drivers the ability to cherry pick jobs that are more profitable, such as long-distance, high-fare bookings.

Grab has since responded with an official statement that reiterates that there are “no hacks, job stealing, and privacy risks” on the app. However, the e-hailing giants admit that there have been a “small number” of unethical driver-partners who have used “illegitimate tools”to gain “unfair advantages over job allocations”.

Additionally, Grab has also assured us that significant investment into technology has been made to combat such instances from happening, with the fraud rate on the platform being less then 1%. Some explanation was also given on the illegal methods used to game the system, including GPS spoofing to fake their location details on the Grab map, along with sideloaded apps that allow drivers to ignore ride requests without incurring any penalties.

Meanwhile, Grab assures us that official versions of the Grab app and passenger/customer are not affected in any way. However, driver-partners who use these illegitimate tools are at risk to attackers, with the security of their mobile devices—and personal data—potentially compromised. Sideloaded apps are installed by downloading APKs from unofficial sources; they aren’t available on the Play Store or the App Store, so there’s always an element of risk involved.

For now, Grab also says that it is “not possible for an assigned job to be stolen by or transferred to another driver-partner”.

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Finally, Grab’s anti-fraud technology can be split into two segments. Detection tools help to spot fake, 3rd party GPS spoofing apps, along with other forms of fraud. Machine learning is used to predict “high-risk” rides, while syndicates are also targeted and stopped. Meanwhile, the Grab Fairplay Programme also works as a form of deterrence—essentially, this is Grab’s whistle-blower programme, with successful complainants to be rewarded.

Attempts to game the Grab algorithm aren’t new—and this isn’t just limited to Grab, with something similar reportedly happening in the past in Singapore. However, Grab has assured customers that the system has not been hacked. Instead, sideloaded, unofficial Grab Driver apps are used, although the company claims that passenger data remains safe.

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