I'm not saying there is no story to be read, in fact I plan to look in depth a bit later, but the current title is somewhat misleading
That is a roundabout way of describing a whistleblower. He didn't give information to competitors, he gave it to journalists and the SEC.
This is the piece they used his info for:
> Beyond the misconduct to which Tripp admitted, he also wrote computer code to periodically export Tesla’s data off its network and into the hands of third parties. 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 so that those individuals would be falsely implicated as guilty parties.
He wrote code that was explicitly designed to bypass the company's security and treacherously act in a way that caused damage to the company's interests, then he inserted it using other people's security credentials. The only elements missing between what he did and what a "real" hacker might have done is breach a technical security barrier rather than be a trusted employee.
"Wrote code" could include a wget cron job. "Bypass company's security" includes literally any activity done without company approval or authorization, including printing out files and putting them in his briefcase and walking out the building without announcing the fact.
No one is really disputing that his alleged acts were "treacherous" to the company, or that they "caused damage to the company's interests" -- that would cover every conceivable form of whistleblowing.
At this point, I don't see what it matters whether it was a "real" hack or not (though it's ironic you mention social engineering, since for too long that has been ignored as a real attack vector). He took info and disclosed it without company approval, now it's up to the courts to decide if that was legitimate and protected whistleblowing.
As to your last sentence, I think it would be difficult to argue that automated and ongoing bulk data exports could ever fit with any definition of whistle-blowing. If he had legitimate concerns, and evidence of those concerns existed in electronic form, he could have simply walked the specific evidence out of the building on a thumb drive.
That being said, we don't know exactly what data was exported, so any speculation (including my own) is rather pointless...
The real issue is whether he is a legitimate whistleblower not the acts that he did in order to provide the data to journalists.
This article omits the crowdfunded defense and all quotes from the defendant, Martin Tripp. It also glosses over the purported issues:
> Tripp told the SEC that Tesla had installed batteries with holes punctured in them, placed battery cells too close to one another and didn’t properly affix them. ... Tripp also alleged that the company systematically reused parts that had been deemed scrap or waste in vehicles.
Is Tesla running an undercover salvage operation, to identify reusable components and reduce waste from their "totaled" cars?
The economics of the situation would say no. The number of "totaled" teslas is a tiny fraction of the number they are producing.
Suing him after firing him was probably an immature overreaction on Tesla's part. It forced the former employee into a more-aggressive posture. Better strategy would have been (a) suing competitors he gave information to (if any) and (b) nudging a local DA to press criminal charges.
Assuming those charges are true, why would it be an overreaction to sue the person who did it!? That to me is the only valid reaction. This person is accused of knowingly purposefully trying to harm Tesla and help competition.
The only way this would be an overreaction is if Tesla really is guilty of doing illegal things. And in that case going to a DA would be the worst idea.
There are three reasons to sue: (1) as a deterrent, (2) to get an injunction and/or (3) to recover financial damages.
The former employee appears broke, so (3) goes out of the window. (2) is a possibility, but mitigated given he already shared the data. As for (1), unemployment + threatened criminal charges would do as much work.
Now let's look at the downsides. Tesla has Streisand effected this former employee's claims. The lawsuit will bankrupt the former employee if he can't show whistleblower status. That incentivises him to double down. At the same time, the public attention incentivises the SEC to look closer. Even without any wrongdoing, that attention is time consuming and costly.
If all this employee did was share with journalists and the SEC, the lawsuit could become a PR problem. Even if Tesla prevails, it will have dragged itself into an expensive distraction.
Is there any evidence he gave them to competitors or did anything other than act as a whistleblower ?
No whistleblower will be completely innocent. Most likely, they will be disgruntled in some way.
Don't. Not until _all_ the facts are laid out.
On the other hand, if the early allegations are true that the employee was altering code and logging in under usernames other than their own to do so, that sure doesn't feel like whistleblowing.
> 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 so that those individuals would be falsely implicated as guilty parties.
I guess it's possible that Tripp did indeed add some code that explicitly tried to frame actual employees. But the fact that his code ran on other people's computers, without any other specific evidence (which may be forthcoming, of course) does not necessarily entail that he intended to frame people.
Things like disabling USB ports or requiring passwords to be entered constantly for everything would most likely impact the business enough that it would be more harmful than any single instance of stolen IP, and even then they only reduce the likely hood of an attack like this, they don't stop it.
much later down the winding language of the article
> Meissner said he won’t be representing Tripp in the federal lawsuit in Nevada. Tripp “is in the process of interviewing attorneys,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday. “It’s not easy to find counsel. There’s almost a cult of Tesla.”
Why not present these facts together in one paragraph? Because people don’t read all the way through, and it helps feed rumours.
Just another article hitting the HN front page with a sensationalist title and breathless writing.
Really, any CEO of a large company should do this but he's the kind of person that would actually care to hear about problems rather than ignore them.
Nope, not possible. I mean it would be ridiculous if a large number of people displayed unthinking loyalty to a money-making venture just because it projected an image that catered to their prejudices, wouldn't it?
I do find it interesting how personally invested many people on this site are in the success of Elon Musks ventures.
I mean it's OK to be a fan; but when you start rejecting evidence of mistakes or even malfeasance and attack other people for showing signs of critical thinking on the topic. That gets to be a problem.
go all in on nearly expiry puts