Elon Musk Tesla’s ex-employees managed to get their hands on the personal details of over 75,000 individuals. The incident points to a recent Tesla expose by the German newspaper Handelsblatt.
Tesla, the electric car maker owned by billionaire Musk, sent out breach notification letters to the people affected. According to Tesla’s letter to the Maine Attorney General, 75,735 individuals were exposed in the breach, which the company described as “insider wrongdoing.”
Tesla claims that in May 2023, the German business newspaper Handelsblatt informed the company that it had obtained its confidential data. The letter states that the media outlet did not intend to publish personal information.
“The investigation revealed that two former Tesla employees misappropriated the information in violation of Tesla’s IT security and data protection policies and shared it with the media outlet,” reads Tesla’s breach notification letter.
The company’s breach notification letter says that the breach exposed current and former employee details, such as names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Information Tesla submitted to the Maine Attorney also indicates that Social Security numbers may have been leaked.
Musk’s car maker said it would provide affected individuals with complimentary identity theft protection services.
In May 2023, a whistleblower reportedly leaked 100 GB of data to Handelsblatt, containing thousands of customer complaints about Tesla’s Full Self Driving (FSD) features.
Following the leak, Handelsblatt published a series of stories detailing Tesla’s inner workings: from the FSD issue to the company instructing employees to avoid leaving a written record of complaints.
Tesla’s breach notification letter doesn’t indicate that the two leaks were linked, but both happening in May and concerning the same German-language magazine point to the cases being related.
“Among other things, we identified and filed lawsuits against the two former employees. These lawsuits resulted in the seizure of the former employees’ electronic devices that were believed to have contained the Tesla information. Tesla also obtained court orders that prohibit the former employees from further use, access, or dissemination of the data, subject to criminal penalties,” Tesla’s breach notification letter reads.
Musk’s company has a reputation for taking questionable measures against whistleblowers. For example, in 2019, Bloomberg reported Tesla going the extra mile to belittle a former employee, with Musk personally overseeing the investigation into the whistleblower.
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