Judge stops ex-Toyota worker from leaving country

by BRETT BARROUQUERE, Associated Press

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 www.toyotasupplier.com 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 www.toyotasupplier.com 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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