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Bikeshare System Hacked, Required to ‘Manually Update’ 2,000 Bikes

Copenhagen-based Bycyklen staff had to reboot every bike in its 100-dock system, thanks to a hacker.

Samantha Cole

Image via Bycyclen

As they try to find their place among our already awful commutes, bikeshare companies are, in general, a bit of a mess. Around the world, dockless bikes end up in pond and trees, are plagued with technological glitches, and even some of the best docked bikeshare systems are drowning in debt. When they work, though, bikeshares are great—for the environment and as competition to car- and public transit-dominated commutes

But the Internet of Hackable Things leaves no connected device behind: Even in famously cyclist-friendly Copenhagen, the city’s electric bikeshare program recently experienced a huge, pain-in-the-ass technical difficulty. Bycyklen, the company that maintains the bicycles, announced on Sunday that its system—and all of the electric bikes within it—was hacked. The company had to send staff to each of its 100 locations around the city to manually reboot each bike.

In July 2017, local news reported that the program operated around 1,860 bikes. They’re each equipped with a tablet that includes GPS navigation and “reports back” to the company, according to Bycyklen’s website.

In a Facebook post, Bycyklen wrote that its entire database was deleted in a “primitive” hacking scheme that seemed to be carried out by someone with intimate knowledge about the system’s structure.

Whether it was a pissed-off former employee who hacked the bikes or some other bike-hating attacker is still unclear, but Bycyklen says it’s back in operation as of Wednesday, likely with a staff that’s very tired of hitting reboot on almost 2,000 bikes.