Tesla Sues Saboteur Ex Employee Accused Of Hacking Gigafactory Systems And Stealing Data

There has been a massive cloud of negativity swirling around Tesla over the past few months as it ramps up production of the Model 3 mainstream EV. Over the weekend, CEO Elon Musk revealed that a [now former] employee admitted to "extensive and damaging sabotage" to the company. 

Today, Tesla has filed formal action against the former employee, Martin Tripp, in a lawsuit. The lawsuit, which was filed in a Nevada district court, alleges that Tripp wrote software to hack into the Tesla's proprietary manufacturing operating system (MOS) at its Nevada Gigafactory facility. This software then transferred "several gigabytes of Tesla data" to third-parties not associated with the company.

tesla gigafactory
Tesla Gigafactory

He also wrote code that would offload data from computers that were used by his colleagues at regular intervals. Tripp wrote the code in a way that it would both avoid detection and continue to send data "even after he left the company and so that those individuals would be falsely implicated as guilty parties."

While setting up your co-workers to take the fall for your nefarious activities is bad enough, it didn't end there. "Tripp also made false claims to the media about the information he stole,” the lawsuit alleges. “For example, Tripp claimed that punctured battery cells had been used in certain Model 3 vehicles even though no punctured cells were ever used in vehicles, batteries or otherwise."

model 2 white
Tesla Model 3

That allegation along with information that Tripp peddled to the media about scrap material produced while manufacturing vehicles was also cited in the Tesla lawsuit. What is unclear at this point is which third-parties were the recipients of the data that Tripp transferred. According to the email that Musk sent on Sunday to employees, it could have very well been some of Tesla's most vocal critics:

As you know, there are a long list of organizations that want Tesla to die. These include Wall Street short-sellers, who have already lost billions of dollars and stand to lose a lot more. Then there are the oil & gas companies, the wealthiest industry in the world — they don't love the idea of Tesla advancing the progress of solar power & electric cars. Don't want to blow your mind, but rumor has it that those companies are sometimes not super nice. Then there are the multitude of big gas/diesel car company competitors. If they're willing to cheat so much about emissions, maybe they're willing to cheat in other ways?

Is this all a big conspiracy by the oil and gas industry to drive Tesla out of business? Or is this just a smokescreen for some bigger problems at the company that are affecting its ability to deliver a sufficient number of [high quality] vehicles profitably? We may never know the truth, but we all hope that Tesla succeeds in its mission to make electric vehicles more prevalent in today's society.