Tesla Wins Case Against Former Staffer Who Stole Data

Tesla has won a court case against a former employee accused of hacking systems at the car maker, and transferring data to unknown third parties.

According to Reuters, Tesla had filed a lawsuit against Martin Tripp, who formerly worked at the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada as a technician, in June 2018.

Tesla accused Tripp of writing software that hacked the carmaker’s manufacturing operating system. He then also transferred several gigabytes of its data to third parties and made false claims to the media.

Elon Musk

Whistleblower claim

The US District Court of Nevada reportedly said in its ruling that it will grant Tesla’s motions to seal “because compelling reasons support them, and they are unopposed.”

The court also denied Tripp’s motion for leave to file an additional reply citing it as “unnecessary”.

Tesla, Tripp and the law firms leading the case did not immediately respond when Reuters contacted them late on Thursday.

No other details were supplied.

However a bit of digging into this case revealed that Tripp made headlines in the media in 2018 when he claimed to be a whistleblower because he was ‘alarmed’ at Tesla’s practices, and even accused Tesla of “some really scary things.”

Martin Tripp for example, told The Washington Post that he did not tamper with internal systems and instead had sought official whistleblower protection, alleging that defective punctured batteries had been installed in Tesla’s Model 3 sedans

Tesla, in turn, accused Tripp of making false claims to the media, and denied shipping cars with safety defects.

Tripp however denied at the time any allegations he hacked Tesla, saying, “I don’t have the patience for coding.”

He also reportedly said he was not, as Tesla lawyers claimed, disgruntled about not getting a promotion. “That’s their generic excuse,” he said. “I could literally care less.”

In a company-wide email in 2018, Musk was quoted by the Washington Post as saying that an employee accused of sabotage had complained about not getting promoted and added “there may be considerably more to this situation than meets the eye.”

Musk called on workers to “be extremely vigilant” and said, “There are a long list of organisations that want Tesla to die.”

Internal security

Tesla has reasons to ensure its internal security systems are solid over the years.

Last month Elon Musk confirmed that Tesla had been targetted in a ‘serious attack’ by a Russian hacker who attempted to bribe an employee to install specially-designed malware.

US authorities arrested and charged a Russian national, Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, who was accused of conspiring to breach the network of an unnamed US company and introduce malware to compromise the company’s networks.

Musk later confirmed on Twitter that Tesla was the company involved.

That case came above when an unnamed Tesla employee was offered $1 million to install malware into Tesla’s corporate systems, but instead the staffer did the right thing and reported the approach to the company who then brought in the FBI.

The FBI then conducted a sting operation that thwarted a planned cybersecurity attack on Tesla’s Giga Nevada.

Kriuchkov was then arrested by US authorities as he tried to leave the United States.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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