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Fired Toyota coder trashes systems, steals data

Insider info leak could cause 'irreparable damage'

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A fired former IT contractor for Toyota's US manufacturing wing has been ordered not to leave the country after allegedly accessing the company's servers, downloading proprietary information, and sabotaging its systems.

The automaker accuses Ibrahimshah Shahulhameed, who was dismissed from his contract programming job on August 23, of logging back into Toyota's systems that same night and spending roughly six hours trashing the place, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

Shahulhameed allegedly accessed Toyotasupplier.com, a web portal where Toyota and its suppliers exchange information about upcoming vehicle projects. Although Toyota hasn't said what data it believes he may have stolen, it could include pricing, parts specifications, quality testing, or design information.

"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 attorney Mindy Barfield wrote in a complaint to the court.

Toyota also claims Shahulhameed altered at least 13 different applications on its servers, including removing security certificates, causing the systems to crash.

"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 company's complaint says.

On Monday, Judge Karen Caldwell of the US District Court in Lexington, Kentucky granted Toyota a restraining order preventing Shahulhameed from leaving the US or sharing any proprietary information he may possess.

A native of India, Shahulhameed had told his Toyota bosses that he planned to return there after losing his contract work.

Toyota spokesman Rick Hesterberg said that so far the company doesn't believe any sensitive information has been leaked to the public or to its competitors, but he declined to say what measures the company planned to take should anything get out.

"It's too early to speculate on what-if's," he said.

However much damage Toyota claims the data leak could potentially cause, however, the court released Shahulhameed on bond of just $2,500, pending trial. That's just over twice the cost of a one-way flight from Lexington to Bombay, assuming he were to leave on Friday. ®

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