Toyota alleges that fired programmer sabotaged its supplier computer network

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comAugust 27, 2012 

After being fired last week, a contract computer programmer at Toyota Motor Manufacturing intentionally "sabotaged" and crashed the company's supplier computer network and downloaded highly confidential information, Toyota has alleged in a federal lawsuit.

In a complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Lexington against Ibrahimshah Shahulhameed, the automaker said, "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."

Shahulhameed "sabotaged various internal programs," causing the network to crash, and he "potentially downloaded proprietary and confidential information for his own improper use," the complaint said.

Shahulhameed lived in Georgetown, where Toyota has its Camry assembly plant, the complaint said.

In response to Toyota's complaint, U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell issued a restraining order Friday, ordering the programmer to forfeit all of Toyota's property, information and data, and return it to the company. The order temporarily enjoined Shahulhameed from accessing, using or disseminating any of Toyota's property or trade secrets.

The complaint said Shahulhameed was a former employee of a company called GlobalSource IT, which had assigned him to provide computer services to Toyota. GlobalSource IT officials declined to comment.

After being terminated Aug. 23, he breached the system at midnight and continued working until about 6:30 a.m. Aug. 24, the complaint alleged.

According to the complaint, Shahulhameed improperly accessed proprietary trade secrets and information including pricing information, quality testing data, parts-testing data and proprietary design information, the complaint said.

The complaint said the level of damage caused by the programmer's alleged unauthorized access to Toyota's computer system was unknown.

"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 said.

Mindy Barfield, the attorney for Toyota who submitted the federal court complaint, referred questions to Toyota officials.

Toyota spokesman Rick Hesterberg said Monday evening that Toyota officials don't think sensitive company material from Toyota's computer system has been distributed.

"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," said Hesterberg. He said apparently no employee information was distributed either.

Shahulhameed could not be reached for comment.

A citizen of India, he told Toyota officials last week that he planned to go back to India.

But after Toyota asked for a temporary restraining order to prevent him from traveling until an investigation was completed, Shahulhameed entered into an agreed order Monday that he would not travel to India for 14 days, court documents said.

The complaint alleges that Shahulhameed violated Kentucky's Trade Secret Act in that he knowingly acquired trade secrets without authorization.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 231-3409. Twitter:@vhspears.

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