Minneapolis parking app hacked, personal information stolen

Bill Mount

The company contracted to run Minneapolis’ pay-by-phone parking app said somebody hacked its system and stole users’ license plate numbers, e-mail addresses, phone numbers and, in some cases, mailing addresses. No credit card information was accessed and no information related to users’ parking transaction history was taken during the data […]

The company contracted to run Minneapolis’ pay-by-phone parking app said somebody hacked its system and stole users’ license plate numbers, e-mail addresses, phone numbers and, in some cases, mailing addresses.

No credit card information was accessed and no information related to users’ parking transaction history was taken during the data breach last month, according to Parkmobile, the Georgia company that operates the MPLS Parking App. The breach affected customers in Minneapolis and 90 other U.S. cities where Parkmobile operates mobile parking apps, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, New York City and Tampa.

Encrypted passwords also were accessed, but the encryption keys required to read them were not, according to a statement the company posted on its website. The company advised users to change their password in the Settings section of the Parkmobile app.

The company began notifying users after it completed its investigation of a “cybersecurity incident” that came to light March 26. Parkmobile attributed the breach to “a vulnerability” in third-party software that it uses. The company said it quickly eliminated the problem and alerted law enforcement.

“As the largest parking app in the U.S., the trust of our users is our top priority,” the statement said. “Please rest assured we take seriously our responsibility to safeguard the security of our users’ information. We continue to maintain our security and monitor our systems.”

There was no breach of any city of Minneapolis networks or data the city receives for payments.

“The profile information that was exposed in the breach was contained within ParkMobile systems that are not integrated with any city systems,” said Minneapolis spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie.

There have been approximately 430,000 downloads of the MPLS Parking App, and the city sees about 100,000 unique users in an average month, McKenzie said. Approximately 60% of all parking meter payments are made via mobile app. Minneapolis collected $7.5 million through the app in 2019 and $4.5 million in 2020, McKenzie said.

The city is working with Parkmobile to ensure legal notifications are made to affected users of the MPLS Parking App, she said.

The app can be used to pay for parking at all city of Minneapolis on and off-street spaces. It can be downloaded free from the Apple Store, Google Play and the city’s website.

Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768

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