Elon Musk emails former Tesla employee accused in lawsuit for hacking

Elon Musk emails former Tesla employee accused in lawsuit for hacking

Troy Powers
June 25, 2018

Up to 14 Tesla (TSLA) solar-installation facilities will be closed across nine states, lowering the total to 60 and raising new questions about the viability of the business.

On Wednesday, the United States e-car company sued the former employee for allegedly taking large amounts of data about the company's manufacturing system and making what it claims were false statements to the media. There's still no suggestion that the employee had any higher agenda than settling a petty dispute with Tesla. Quickly after, Tesla shareholders filed a lawsuit alleging the acquisition should never have been approved. "Several gigabytes" of data has been transferred to unknown third party recipients by the hacker.

The data includes "Tesla's dozens of production videos and confidential photos". Tripp's hacking of Tesla systems was seemingly created to export confidential information - not delay the manufacturing process or cause fires - and it appears that all of his actions were retaliation against Tesla for perceived mistreatment, rather than industrial espionage.

Worse still, Tesla insisted, Tripp told company investigators "that he does not actually know the value of the scrap that he assigned dollar values to".

According to the lawsuit, Tripp joined the company in October 2017 and quickly became upset over his position not holding enough seniority, something which managers identified as being disruptive and caused the employee to be "combative".

But Tripp, 40, said he did so because he was alarmed by what he learned while an employee, including what he claimed were hundreds of Model 3s that had punctured batteries.

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The lawsuit suggest that Tripp, who was annoyed because he did not receive promotions he felt he deserved, was the source of recent allegations to the press concerning defective parts being used in Tesla automobiles and damaged battery components being utilized in the batteries for the new Tesla Model 3 sedan.

But the employee, Martin Tripp, told The Washington Post that he did not tamper with internal systems and is instead a whistleblower who spoke out after seeing "some really scary things" inside the company, including dangerously punctured batteries installed in cars.

The employee, Musk said, purportedly made unspecified code changes to the company's manufacturing operating system and sent sensitive Tesla data to unnamed third parties. In addition to $1 million in damages, Tesla is requesting access to Tripp's phone, home computer and email accounts to further determine the extent of the alleged sabotage.

Tripp, who as of Friday evening had still not secured an attorney, declined to respond to Tesla's new lengthy assertions.

He said that he had left his previous job with a medical-device company and moved his family to Nevada to work for Tesla, believing it was "a golden opportunity".

The row took a freaky twist late on Wednesday night when Tesla said it had received a credible threat - from a "friend of Mr Tripp" - that Mr Tripp was "coming to the Gigafactory to "shoot the place up". "It has so much to do with Elon Musk, he's such an interesting guy, and Tesla's really trying to revolutionize the vehicle industry by making it all electric".