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Ex-Toyota worker ordered to remain in country

Posted: August 27, 2012 1:06 p.m.
Updated: August 27, 2012 1:06 p.m.

A 2012 Toyota Camry on display in Dearborn, Mich. Aug. 23. A federal judge ordered a former computer programmer for Toyota to remain in the U.S. on allegations of computer hacking.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A federal judge has ordered a former computer programmer for Toyota from leaving the United States while the company investigates the damage done by an alleged computer hacking incident.

U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell in Lexington also ordered Ibrahimshah Shahulhameed of Georgetown, Ky., to forfeit any information and data he took from the computer system of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Lexington, Toyota alleged that Shahulhameed illegally accessed the website after being dismissed from his contract position on Thursday. The company claims Shahulhameed reset the website and computer system to automatically crash.

Rick Hesterberg, a Toyota Motor Manufacturing spokesman, said the company is still gathering facts in the case.

"This is an ongoing investigation involving a former contractor," Hesterberg told The Associated Press.

Efforts to locate Shahulhameed were not immediately successful Monday afternoon.

Shahulhameed worked on contract as a computer programmer for Toyota until being let go on Thursday. At that point, Toyota alleged, Shahulhameed, a native of India, accessed Toyota's internal computer system without authorization and copied, downloaded and possibly disseminated trade secrets and proprietary information. Included in that information was pricing information, quality testing data and parts testing data, Toyota's attorney, Mindy Barfield, wrote in the complaint.

"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," Barfield wrote.

Toyota claims that Shahulhameed spent more than six hours inside the computer system's firewall on Thursday and Friday. Toyota also said Shahulhameed reprogrammed at least 13 applications the computer system in an effort to cause it to crash.

Barfield wrote that Shahulhameed also removed critical security certifications on the company's internal server, causing the programs to become inoperable.

Barfield was unsure how long it would take for Toyota's technology department to repair the damage. The website serves as a portal for current suppliers to Toyota, as well as a place for companies seeking to do business with Toyota to find information and work in a potential deal. As of Monday afternoon, the site appeared to be working.

"(Shahulhameed) had no authority to access or use Toyota's property or trade secrets and it is undisputed that he did access it and altered computer programs and codes," Barfield wrote.

Caldwell, in an order issued Saturday, barred Shahulhameed from traveling out of the country for 14 days. Caldwell noted that Shahulhameed had planned to leave the United States and return to India for an undetermined amount of time.

Shahulhameed was also required to post $2,500 bond, which he did Monday.

Toyota is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages from Shahulhameed.


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