Fred Lambert at Electrek just reported on a story we published Aug 26th, and he reveals who was targeted: "Tesla and the FBI worked together to prevent a group of ransomware hackers from attacking Tesla’s Gigafactory Nevada, according to a complaint from the FBI.
The FBI released information this week on the arrest of Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, a 27-year-old Russian citizen, who they claim was part of a group who attempted to extort millions of dollars from a company in Nevada, which has now been identified as Tesla.
According to the complaint, Kriuchkov traveled to the US in July on a tourist visa and made contact with a Russian-speaking employee at Tesla Gigafactory Nevada.
He met the employee, who remains anonymous in the complaint, several times socially before making him a proposition to pay him to help introduce malware in Tesla’s internal computer system in order to extract corporate data and affect Tesla’s operations.
Kriuchkov alleged that he was representing a group that would then arrange a ransom with Tesla in order to not release the information and stop affecting its operations. The employee didn’t refuse, but he immediately informed Tesla, who in turn informed the FBI.
The FBI launched a sting operation with the employee who wore a wire and shared text communications with Kriuchkov as they were negotiating the terms of the malware attack. The employee and Kriuchkov met several times throughout August to plan the attack and the payment of the employee’s fee.
Interestingly, through the cooperation with the Tesla employee, the FBI was able to obtain information about previous attacks from this group. They didn’t confirm which other companies were involved, but it was recently reported that CWT Group paid $4.5 million for a similar ransomware attack in July.
Ultimately, Kriuchkov and another Russian-speaking individual who was not named in the complaint agreed to pay the employee $1 million to deliver the malware in a Tesla computer. He was leaving the US from Los Angeles on August 22 when he was arrested by the FBI.
Electrek’s Take (and we fully agree!)
Kudos to the Tesla employee. Based on the complaint, it sounds like he went above and beyond, not just to help prevent the attack on Tesla, but also to help the FBI find out more about the group. At the very least, he saved Tesla from a massive headache and at the worst, he saved them from what could have potentially stalled their operations at Gigafactory Nevada and that would have crippled the company.