Any unexplained adverse condition might be sabotage. Sabotage is sometimes called tampering, meddling, tinkering, malicious pranks, malicious hacking, a practical joke or the like to avoid needing to invoke legal and organizational requirements for addressing sabotage.
The word "sabotage" appears in the beginning of the early 20th century from the French word "sabotage". It is sometimes said that some workers (from Netherlands for some, canuts from Lyon for others, luddites in England, etc.) used to throw their wooden shoes, called "sabots" (clogs) in the machines to break them, but this is not supported by the etymology. Rather, the French source word literally means to "walk noisily," and wearing wooden shoes is an example of walking noisily. Originally this was used metaphorically to refer to labor disputes, not damage.
The verb "saboter" is also found in 1873–1874 in the Dictionnaire de la langue française of Émile Littré. But it is at the end of the 19th century that it really began to be used with the meaning of "deliberately and maliciously destroying property" or "working slower". In 1897, Émile Pouget, a famous syndicalist and anarchist wrote "action de saboter un travail" (action of sabotaging a work) in Le Père Peinard and in 1911 he also wrote a book entitled Le Sabotage.