A Tesla email revealed that an employee attempted to “maliciously” sabotage part of the Fremont Factory, according to Bloomberg. The employee’s actions reportedly disrupted operations at the Fremont Factory, but Tesla was able to handle the situation quickly and resume normal operations just hours after the attack.
The alleged sabotage was mentioned in an email sent by Tesla’s Vice President of Legal and acting General Counsel, Al Prescott, on Monday. “Two weeks ago, our IT and InfoSec teams determined than [sic] an employee had maliciously sabotaged a part of the Factory. Their quick actions prevented further damage and production was running smoothly again a few hours later,” wrote Prescott in the email.
The employee, who was not named by the Tesla executive in the email, initially tried to “cover up his tracks” by attempting to destroy evidence, reported Bloomberg. He also attempted to use a co-worker as his scapegoat. “Ultimately, after being shown the irrefutable evidence, the employee confessed. As a result, we terminated employment,” Prescott wrote.
As of this writing, the specific actions of the former Tesla employee have not been divulged, with details related to the incident coming from Prescott’s communication. The email Bloomberg acquired revealed that the alleged saboteur did manage to disrupt the facility’s operations for a short time. Whether or not that was the former employee’s intent remains unclear. Based on Prescott’s description of the employee’s actions, however, one could infer that the attempted sabotage was notable.
The Fremont Factory is Tesla’s main production site in California and produces the company’s Model S, Model 3, Model X and Model Y vehicles. The cars made at Fremont are sold in the United States, Europe, and Asia. As demand increases for Tesla vehicles, especially for its Model 3 and Model Y EVs, efficient production has become even more crucial. Any disruption in the production line could adversely affect Tesla’s goals and plans.
Unfortunately, Tesla is familiar with incidents like this recent sabotage attempt. For example, in August 2020, a Russian named Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov attempted to take the company’s trade secrets hostage in a ransomware ploy.
Kriuchkov had contacted a Tesla employee working in Gigafactory Nevada through WhatsApp to gain access to the electric manufacturer’s computer networks. The employee met with Kriuchkov twice until the Russian revealed his plot to retrieve sensitive data from Tesla’s systems and hold it hostage until the company paid the ransom. Kriuchkov offered the Tesla employee up to $1 million for his participation in the planned ransomware attack.
In the incident with the Russian, however, the Tesla employee played the protagonist of the story. The Nevada employee was never named, but he immediately informed Tesla about the Russian’s planned cybersecurity attack which gave the company time to contact the FBI and catch the would-be hacker. Following a series of meetings with Kriuchkov under the guidance of the FBI, the employee was able to gather enough information, which helped authorities arrest the Russian as he was trying to leave the United States.