Toyota says fired IT contractor hacked into company secrets
Toyota's U.S. manufacturing company has accused a fired computer worker of cracking into its proprietary plans for parts prices and designs, downloading the information and sabotaging Toyota's internal computer software.
The automaker late last week filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Lexington, Ky., against Ibrahimshah Shahulhameed, a former IT contractor of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc.
As requested by the complaint, Toyota has been granted a restraining order preventing Shahulhameed from disseminating trade secrets or from leaving the United States.
"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," Toyota charges in its complaint.
Attempts to locate Shahulhameed for comment or obtain the name of an attorney representing him were not immediately successful. The complaint lists a Georgetown, Ky., address for the man.
Shahulhameed worked for GlobalSource IT, Toyota said.
Too early to tell
Toyota manufacturing spokesman Rick Hesterberg said Monday that Toyota continues to investigate the security breach and does not know yet what has happened with the confidential information, or whether it may have changed hands.
"We currently do not believe that any supplier data or our proprietary company information has been disseminated," he said.
He declined to discuss what defensive responses Toyota has at its disposal, if any, in the event that the material is leaked either publicly or to a competitor.
"It's too early to speculate on what-if's," he said.
Logged on all night
According to the complaint, Shahulhameed was fired on Aug. 23 and logged into the Toyota computer system around midnight that night. The complaint alleges that he stayed on the system until 6:30 a.m. the next morning, copying, saving and printing trade secrets.
Toyota's complaint accuses Shahulhameed of hacking into its secure Web portal, toyotasupplier.com, a data network where Toyota and its suppliers exchange sensitive information on upcoming vehicle projects.
Toyota alleges in the complaint that Shahulhameed improperly modified 13 software applications on the Web site.
"It will take days for Toyota's IT department to determine the full extent of its damage as a result of defendant's efforts to sabotage its system," the complaint says.
The court document claims that Shahulhameed was on the verge of leaving the United States for India, where he is a citizen.
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