Tesla Nevada Factory Was Target of 'Serious' Cyber-Attack, Elon Musk Confirms

Tesla Gigafactory 1- December 2019

Tesla Gigafactory 1- December 2019

The plan, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, was to get the employee "to introduce malware - i.e., malicious software programs created to damage or do other unwanted actions on a computer system - into the company's computer network" that would allow Kriuchkov and his co-conspirators access to the company's system, letting them download data and threaten to make it public.

The employee in question reportedly told Tesla about Kriuchkov's proposition, and the company contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In a tweet, Tesla CEO and newly minted World's Fourth Richest Man Elon Musk confirmed that Tesla had been the target of the attack, responding to a post by the Teslarati blog.

It all started mid-July when Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, a 27-year-old citizen of Russia in the United States on a travel visa contacted a Russian-speaking foreign national - the name of the employee has not been divulged - working in Sparks, Nevada.

The malware was aimed at extracting data from the network and then to threaten the company for ransom money, the statement said.

Kriuchkov offered to pay $500,000 to the employee for installing the malware on the company's network.

According to court documents, Kriuchkov tried to recruit a Tesla employee and to convince him to deploy an unknown malware strain on the company's computer network via a USB drive or using an email with a malicious attachment.

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"After being contacted by the FBI, Kriuchkov drove overnight from Reno to Los Angeles", a Department of Justice press release says.

"This was a serious attack", Musk tweeted Thursday in response to a Teslarati report on the attempted malware hack.

Investigators say that Kriuchkov provided the employee with a burner phone to communicate with other unidentified members of the plot, and instructed him to leave the burner phone in airplane mode until after the money was transferred.

Kriuchkov meet with the employee numerous times in early August, before inviting them to help with a "special project".

Cybersecurity experts say that certain ransomware groups, such as Evil Corp, are believed to act as contractors for the Russian government, raising the possibility that Kriuchkov could potentially provide valuable information to USA counterintelligence officials.

It is not immediately clear if Kriuchkov has obtained an attorney.

And the hackers might have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for that meddling employee.

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