Earlier today, Musk responded to a tweet asking him about how a data breach at Tesla was handled. The incident, which allegedly occurred in 2008, appeared to involve an employee who was leaking confidential company data to the press in exchange for money. Musk seemed to confirm the story and expand on it. After describing the events as “quite interesting,” he went on to say: “We sent what appeared to be identical emails to all, but each was actually coded with either one or two spaces between sentences, forming a binary signature that identified the leaker.”
That is quite an interesting story. We sent what appeared to be identical emails to all, but each was actually coded with either one or two spaces between sentences, forming a binary signature that identified the leaker.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 9, 2022
There is no confirmation or suggestion that a similar code was worked into the mass email Twitter sent out this morning. It is also worth noting that the incident at Tesla will have involved a handful of initial “suspects” as opposed to the thousands of employees who may have received this morning’s emails. According to Forbes, Tesla only had 363 employees that year and not all of them would have had access to confidential company data. While it is unlikely any kind of code was worked into this morning’s email, it is still possible.
The email itself contained roughly 839 characters and 143 words. Very subtle changes to spacing and punctuation could be added to form thousands of different, but incredibly similar-looking emails. Deliberate typos could also be used, though they may be easier to pick up on. Although many of the employees will choose to take the severance package and will be glad to be free from Musk, if one of them leaked the email and Musk can prove it, there could be dire consequences.