June 20, 2018 / 5:00 PM / 5 months ago

Tesla accuses former employee of hacking and transferring data

SAN FRANCISCO, June 20 (Reuters) - Tesla Inc has sued a former employee claiming that he hacked the electric carmaker's trade secrets and transferred large amounts of company data to third parties, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Nevada on Wednesday.

In its lawsuit Tesla claimed that Martin Tripp, who formerly worked at the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada, had admitted to writing software that hacked the carmaker's manufacturing operating system, transferring several gigabytes of its data to third parties and making false claims to the media.

Tripp was not immediately available for comment.

His hacking software was operating on three separate computer systems of other individuals at Tesla so that the data would be exported even after he left the company and falsely implicate those individuals, according to the lawsuit.

"Within a few months of Tripp joining Tesla, his managers identified Tripp as having problems with job performance and at times being disruptive and combative with his colleagues," the lawsuit said.

"As a result of these and other issues, on or about May 17, 2018, Tripp was assigned to a new role. Tripp expressed anger that he was reassigned."

Earlier this week, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk told employees in an email that an unnamed Tesla employee had conducted “extensive and damaging sabotage” to the company’s operations.

“The full extent of his actions are not yet clear, but what he has admitted to so far is pretty bad,” Musk wrote without specifying who he was referring to.

A Tesla spokesperson had no additional comment.

Tesla stock was trading up slightly on Wednesday, just below $355. (Reporting by Salvador Rodriguez in San Francisco and Vibhuti Sharma in Bangalore; editing by Clive McKeef)

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