Tesla says data breach that affected over 75,000 people was caused by 'insider wrongdoing'

The leaks showed that the company received thousands of Autopilot complaints over the past years.

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A Tesla data breach earlier this year affecting more than 75,000 people was caused by "insider wrongdoing," according to a notification on Maine's Attorney General website. The 75,735 people impacted were likely current or former Tesla employees. "While we have not identified evidence of misuse of the data in a manner that may cause harm to you, we are nonetheless providing you with this notice to ensure that you are aware of what happened and the measures we have taken," the company wrote in a letter to employees.

The breach occurred on May 10th, when the German-language newspaper Handelsblatt said it received 100GB of data from "several informants" within Tesla. The "Tesla files" reportedly contained 23,000 internal files, containing 2,400 reports of self-acceleration issue and 1,500 cases of braking function problems. The latter included 139 complaints about unintentional emergency braking and 383 incidences of phantom stops from false collision warnings.

In the employee letter, Tesla provided more information about the incident, confirming the May 10 breach date and that Handelsblatt had obtained Tesla confidential 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."

The data also included employee names and contact information including physical addresses, email addresses and mobile phone numbers. "The outlet has stated that it does not intend to publish the personal information, and in any event, is legally prohibited from using it inappropriately," Tesla stated. It added that several lawsuits resulted in the seizure of devices thought to carry the data, and that it had "obtained court orders that prohibit the former employees from further use, access, or dissemination of the data."

Last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a probe into Tesla's phantom braking issue following owner complaints. And in August 2022, it was reported that Tesla is facing a class-action lawsuit over the same problem.