Toyota Contractor Accused of Sabotaging Company Network, Stealing Data


A former programmer for Toyota has been accused of sabotaging applications on the car company’s network and stealing data after he was fired from his job last week, according to a civil complaint filed by the company.

Abrahimshah Shahulhameed, a 35-year-old citizen of India who is in the U.S. on a work visa, worked for GlobalSource IT, a contractor that provided computer services for Toyota.

After he was terminated from his job on August 23, Shahulhameed allegedly accessed the company’s secure website and stole confidential data and trade secrets pertaining to Toyota’s suppliers, including pricing information as well as proprietary design information, quality testing data and parts testing data. He then allegedly sabotaged 13 applications related to the supplier website and caused it to crash, according to documents (.pdf) filed in U.S. District court in the Eastern District of Kentucky. Shahulhameed allegedly “removed critical security certifications on the internal server, causing the programs to be inoperable,” Toyota says.

Toyota asserts that if the information Shahulhameed allegedly stole was disseminated to competitors or otherwise made public, “it would be highly damaging to Toyota, and its suppliers, causing immediate and irreparable damage.”

Toyota alleges that Shahulhameed accessed the system around midnight the day he was terminated and remained in the network until 6:30 a.m. the following morning.

“At this point, the level of damage caused by Defendant’s unauthorized access to Toyota’s computer system is unknown,” Toyota claims. “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.”

Toyota has accused Shahulhameed of violating the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act as well as the Kentucky Trade Secret Act and asked for a temporary restraining order requiring Shahulhameed to return the data he allegedly stole, refrain from further accessing Toyota’s system and remain in the U.S. until Toyota completes its investigation.

It’s not clear if criminal charges will be filed against Shahulhameed. It appears that Toyota filed the complaint quickly on August 24 because Shahulhameed had “stated to Toyota that he plans to travel to India tomorrow for an undetermined amount of time,” according to an amended complaint Toyota submitted to the court.

The company is also asking for the court to order Shahulhameed to pay undetermined damages.

A federal judge granted the restraining order, ruling that Shahulhameed could not leave the country while Toyota investigates the incident. He was also ordered to forfeit any data he took from the company.