Toyota sues programmer for 'sabotaging' computer network

Toyota sues programmer for 'sabotaging' computer network

Summary: Automaker Toyota alleges that one of its former programmers sabotaged web applications and security systems.

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TOPICS: Security
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Automaker Toyota alleges that one of its former programmers sabotaged web applications and security systems, and has filed a lawsuit in reprisal.

Ibrahimshah Shahulhameed was fired last week by the corporation. In an Aug. 24 complaint, Toyota says that the former programmer sabotaged its computer systems at Toyota Motor Manufacturing.

The Indian contract programmer apparently attacked the system -- crashing it in the process -- and managed to download information that is "highly confidential".

The complaint was submitted to the U.S. District Court in Lexington. Toyota says within the lawsuit:

"If this information were disseminated to competitors or otherwise made public, it would be highly damaging to Toyota and its suppliers, causing immediate and irreparable damage. The worker had no authority to access or use Toyota's property or trade secrets and it is undisputed that he did access it and altered computer programs and codes."

After being dismissed for unacceptable behavior, Shahulhameed allegedly accessed the U.S. parts supply website portal toyotasupplier.com, manipulating 3 web applications and altering security certificates that caused system failure. After doing so, the programmer downloaded documents including pricing specs, parts and quality testing data. The company believes that if this data falls into third-party hands, it could cause irreparable harm.

The complaint says it will "take days for Toyota's IT department to determine the full extent of its damage as a result of th Defendant's efforts to sabotage its system."

The rapidly-filed lawsuit also includes a temporary restraining order issued from U.S. judge Karen Caldwell, banning the programmer from leaving the country while the investigation proceeds. Shahulhameed has also been ordered to hand over all of Toyota's property and data.

According to reports, the automaker's officials don't believe sensitive company material has been distributed. Toyota spokesman Rick Hesterberg said:

"We are and will continue to investigate this thoroughly, but currently we do not believe that any supplier data or proprietary information has been distributed."

Topic: Security

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23 comments
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  • Good luck with ever getting another job...

    EVER! How would you like sabotaged my last employer on your resume?
    RunSilent23
    • ...

      Well the world needs ditch diggers too.
      fldbryan@...
      • ...

        "I'm gonna end up working in a lumberyard the rest of my life."
        BGunnells
    • ...

      I hear 7-11 and AM-PM are hiring. Just saying.
      gribittmep
  • How come...

    fired "contract programmer" still had access? Article didn't mention it was a break-in or back-door.
    vgrig
    • probably been working on this for quite some time

      He probably implemented the code that would allow himself back in. Just because they revoked your access to the production servers doesn't mean there are no other way in. So long as a publicly facing system requests login/password there is always a chance of a back door.
      rengek
  • Need to Fire Whoever Designs Their Cars As Well

    They make vanilla look awesome. Boring and fugly are not good for cars.

    And this guy is now black boxed.
    thenitewatch@...
    • "Black boxed?"

      I think you mean black balled, not black boxed.

      Also, what has the look of their cars got to do with this article?
      BrewmanNH
    • Boring...

      I find your comments boring and fugly. You've been "black boxed".
      gribittmep
    • yep

      cuz their cars are so ugly these days. they should start firing all their staff. Maybe if all their data gets leaked they will have to go back to the drawing board and make some good cars again.
      Jimster480
  • I wonder...

    I wonder if any of the purloined documents pertain to their stuck accelerator problems, and whether they tried to duck responsibility and/or knew more than they admitted? I'd like to see those documents, and yes, it would surely be damaging to Toyota if it was revealed that they let people die in needless crashes because they didn't want to endure a recall.
    omb00900@...
    • My turn

      It would also be revealing if the documents show them torturing puppies and performing Satanic ritual abuse on children.

      OK, now you make up another one.
      Robert Hahn
      • OMG!

        You're onto us! Quick, call out the CIA for a hit job.

        Senior VP, Toyota Motor Vehicles, Tokyo, Japan.
        Graphic Equaliser
    • Pinto...

      Go buy a Pinto, I hear they survive rear-end accidents quite well. Make sure you buy a fire extinguisher.
      gribittmep
  • Poor security.

    I have a feeling this an H1B guy they brought in to get stuff done cheaper.
    So, they went through all the trouble to save a few bucks only to find out
    the guy was not competent and apparently ethically challenged as well.
    Or maybe someone told one too many curry jokes and he went off. *shrug*

    In any case, rule #1 in letting someone like this go is to change the security
    to prevent their doing you any harm. Something as simple as changing the passwords
    at a minimum.

    It sounds like he is trying to use whatever information that is there to blackmail
    the company. I'd like to remind any prosecutor that if this sensitive information
    reveals a crime at Toyota that they have an obligation to use it to prosecute the
    appropriate individuals.
    richard233
    • Better Faster and Cheaper

      Like our management keeps telling us H1B guys can do our jobs better faster and cheaper than we do.

      Hay Toyota - How's the outsourcing working our for you?
      gribittmep
    • Corporate Greed

      Instead of paying what they should pay they try to get it done cheaper, because they are greedy. Now their greed is going to be their demise.
      Jimster480
  • "The company believes that if this data falls into third-party hands..."

    "...it could cause irreparable harm." I wonder what Toyota's hiding, considering the large number of issues their vehicles have been experiencing as of late.
    Champ_Kind
    • Not hiding...

      Don't think they're hiding anything of a nefarious nature. Pricing information is something that corporations hold close to their chest and competitors would love to get their hands on.
      gribittmep
  • Private contract details and negotiations

    There doesn't have to be anything nefarious going on at Toyota for private/proprietary information to be irreparably damaging.
    Marc Jellinek