Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, confirms Thursday night via Twitter, an attempted cyberattack at its massive factory near Reno, Nevada. Tesla’s founder called the attempt “serious.” However, the attack never happened and was successfully exposed by the FBI thanks to a Tesla employee who refused $1 million and helped the authorities prevent the attack.
According to the report from the Justice Department, Egor Igovervich Kriuchkov, a Russian citizen, was planning to install malicious software into Tesla’s private computer system with the help of a Tesla employee. If the plan would have succeeded, Russian hackers would have gained access to the company’s network and would have been able to use all the information to blackmail Tesla to pay the ransom.
The report of the US department of justice also reveals that the Russian hackers had been conspiring with his associates since July 15, 2020, to about August 22, 2020, to find and recruit a Tesla employee who would be willing to give them this access in return for $1 million. However, the hackers’ plan did not succeed as the employee they have recruited alerted the FBI, who investigated and filed a complaint against the Russian citizen involved.
Attempted but unsuccessful cyberattack against Tesla
On Thursday, the Justice Department revealed a complaint that reveals a thwarted malware attack against an unnamed company in Sparks, Nevada. However, despite not telling the name of the company that was targeted, it was pretty clear for many people that Tesla was the company that was the target.
Tesla owns a factory in Sparks, where it produces battery cells, packs, and electric motors. Thus, it was pretty easy to suspect that Tesla is the company that was targeted by the Russian hackers.
The report explained that the ransomware which the Russian hacker was planning to install in Tesla’s factory is a kind of malware that encrypts the victim’s files in exchange for a ransom. Prosecutors also explained in the report that ransomware is an increasingly common tactic used by hackers as it not only encrypts the victim’s files but it also exfiltrates all the information to the hacker’s servers. Hackers who use this cyberattack tactic typically use the data to threaten the victim with publishing their files unless they are paid great amounts of money.
The employee from Tesla, whose name isn’t revealed in the report, met with Egor Igovervich Kriuchkov, who tried to bribe him with $1 million to help him install the malware into the factory’s computer network. However, the employee informed the company about the event, and the company then turned to the FBI for investigations. The Federal Bureau of Investigations used the employee whom the Russian hacker has tried to bribe in a sting operation. The result was that the attack was not successful, and Egor Igovervich Kriuchkov was arrested on August 22.
Last night, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has confirmed via a Twitter post that there was an attempted cyberattack against Tesla, his company.