Tesla Narrowly Escapes Russian Hack Attempt

By Ben Hamill - September 08 2020
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Tesla Narrowly Escapes Russian Hack Attempt

The FBI has reportedly foiled an attempt by a team of Russian hackers to extort millions from Elon Musk’s Tesla factory in Sparks, Nevada. The hackers had allegedly offered to a member of staff employed at Tesla’s Gigafactory a bribe to the value of US$1 million – this in return for said employee’s willingness to install trojan horse spyware on the company’s computer systems.

But instead of accepting the bribe and installing the malware on the company’s computers, the employee proceeded to notify the FBI of the intended crime. According to court documents pertaining to the investigation, the plan had been to extort at least US$4 million from the high-tech car manufacturer.

Musk on Thursday thanked the FBI for the organisation’s successful arrest of one of the alleged hackers - one Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov - i.e. the supposed mastermind behind the extorsion-gone-wrong. According to the Tesla boss, who on social media described the attempted cyber-attack as serious, the arrest was much appreciated.

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What The Court Documents Reveal

The court documents furthermore reveal that the plot to defraud Tesla out of millions had in fact been a well-organised six weeks-long endeavour – which endeavour reportedly involved the attempted recruitment of the tech giant’s employee. The court documents do not reveal the identity of the employee, and merely refer to the worker as unnamed and a Russian immigrant to the U.S.

Said documents also make mention of the nature of the relationship between the Tesla employee and the alleged Russian hacker, indicating that the pair had met years earlier. The hacker first re-established contact with the Tesla worker on July 16; via social media and chat platform WhatsApp; and then a reported 2 weeks later drove to Nevada in a Hertz-rental Toyota Corolla with the intention of cajoling said worker into becoming a party to the intended crime.

Hacker Facing Federal Time

The pair had apparently hung out together for a few days before Kriuchkov eventually spilled the beans by revealing the true purpose of his visit to his target accomplice.

Kriuchkov had allegedly explained his plan as a ruse involving a staged cyber-attack in order to avail to the Tesla employee sufficient time for the installing of the malware program on the company’s systems network. It had reportedly been at this point in time that the employee had decided to notify the FBI of the Russian hacker’s intentions.

The FBI subsequently began monitoring Kriuchkov’s movements and eventually arrested him a day before his intended departure back to Russia. Having since been charged with conspiracy to cause damage to a protected computer, the Russian criminal now faces up to five years behind federal prison bars.

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