Uber to make sweeping security changes to protect riders

Ridesharing company Uber is making a series of sweeping changes to ramp up its security to protect users all over the world - and here in New Zealand.

The company says it is doing everything it can to make safety a top priority following a US woman's brutal murder.

Earlier this year South Carolina student Samantha Josephson got into a stranger's car after she mistook it for her Uber. She was later found dead, allegedly murdered by Nathaniel David Rowland.

His car was found to have a large amount of blood inside the passenger and boot compartments, along with Josephson's cellphone, a container of liquid bleach, germicidal wipes and window cleaner.

The child safety locks on the passenger doors were also activated, meaning Josephson could not have escaped by opening them.

Now Uber is making changes to make sure that the car people are getting into is the right one.

Tracey Breeden, a former police officer who now heads women's safety at Uber, told CBS News that "really felt the responsibility to step up, even though that was not an Uber driver… but to step up and see what more we could do to create a safer environment."

As a result, it's rolling out a new optional verification system which will require a driver to get a PIN code from their rider before a trip can start.

"The driver enters the PIN, you get an indication, a notification on your phone saying yes this is the right car,"  Sachin Kansal, Uber's senior director of safety product management, told CBS News.

"Whether it's checking the license plate, checking the name and now with the PIN verification, you should confirm that before you get in the car."

It also plans on taking this PIN verification a step further by enabling your phone to seamlessly communicate with the phone of the Uber you've called, telling you when the right vehicle has arrived and which car to get into.