Former programmer found guilty of sabotaging Toyota Kentucky computer network

gkocher1@herald-leader.comFebruary 14, 2014 

A federal jury this week found a fired programmer guilty of intentionally sabotaging and crashing Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky's supplier computer network.

Ibrahimshah Shahulhameed was remanded to custody after a U.S. District Court jury in Lexington convicted him of knowingly causing the "transmission of a program, information, code and command" that caused damage to a protected computer. The conduct caused at least $5,000 in damage, according to a 2012 indictment.

The incident happened Aug. 23 and 24, 2012, at Scott County's Camry plant.

The five-day trial concluded Tuesday. The jury, having heard testimony from nine witnesses, deliberated for a little more than four hours before returning the verdict.

Shahulhameed, a citizen of India, is scheduled for sentencing May 8. He faces the possibility of 10 years in prison and restitution.

Shahulhameed is a former employee of a company called GlobalSource IT, which had assigned him to provide computer services to Toyota, according to an affidavit filed in federal court. Officials at GlobalSource IT fired him after an internal investigation concluded Shahulhameed was harassing another GSI employee also assigned to Toyota, the affidavit said.

Shahulhameed's supervisor told him not to contact anyone at Toyota and said his project had been terminated.

"Following his termination, Mr. Shahulhameed accessed Toyota's computer system and caused damage without authorization," the affidavit said.

A computer assigned to Shahulhameed "issued commands that, in some circumstances, made the system inoperable, and in other circumstances, prevented other Toyota employees from accessing the system ... These configuration changes were not authorized and were detrimental to the systems that were changed," the affidavit said. Some of the commands were intended to "render the system inoperable."

Shahulhameed caused considerable downtime or loss of functionality with a number of systems, affecting the most, according to court documents. Several and internal applications did not work properly or shut down for hours, according to the affidavit.

Toyota Information Systems personnel spent significant hours diagnosing and fixing problems, resulting in 3,000 to 5,000 labor hours in investigative time, restoration of the system and fixing problems, Toyota said. Officials at one company estimated the cost of its diagnostic work would be $21,000, the affidavit said.

After his conviction, Shahulhameed was put on a 48-hour detainer by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. His attorneys sought his release pending sentencing under the same terms as a previous pretrial release.

Instead, U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell scheduled a hearing on the matter for Feb. 21.

"At this point," Caldwell wrote in a Friday order, "the defendant stands convicted of a serious cyber crime. Given his expertise with computers and the access he would have once released, there are significant questions as to what danger the defendant might pose to the public while awaiting sentencing.

"Because these questions exist, the court finds that a hearing is necessary to determine whether presentence release is appropriate."

Caldwell wrote that attorneys should be prepared to discuss what conditions — if any — the court could impose on Shahulhameed during presentence release "that would sufficiently protect the public from any danger that he may pose."

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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