Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada was a target of attempted and thwarted cyberattack, Elon Musk said, describing the attempt as “a serious attack.”
Musk confirmed there was an attempted cyberattack, in reply to an article tweeted by Teslarati, which described how a Russian national had contacted an unnamed Russian-speaking, non-US citizen working at Tesla’s Gigafactory Nevada, offering to pay him US$1 million to insert malware in Tesla’s network, extract data, and demand ransomware.
After meeting with the Russian national who had offered the money, Tesla’s employee reported the planned cyberattack to Tesla. The EV maker contacted the FBI, which took over and had the Tesla employee wear a wire at a meeting with the man planning the attack, Teslarati reports.
The FBI apprehended the plan planning the cyberattack last week.
On Tuesday this week, the U.S. Justice Department said that Russian national Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, 27, was arrested for conspiracy to introduce malware into a computer network of a Nevada company.
Kriuchkov was arrested for “his role in a conspiracy to recruit an employee of a company to introduce malicious software into the company’s computer network, extract data from the network, and extort ransom money from the company,” the Justice Department said.
“Kriuchkov promised to pay the employee $1 million after the malware was introduced. In furtherance of the conspiracy, Kriuchkov provided the employee with a burner phone, and instructed him to leave the burner phone in airplane mode until after the money was transferred,” the Justice Department added.
Kriuchkov appeared in court on Monday for his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alexander F. MacKinnon in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, California, who ordered Kriuchkov detained pending trial.
Commenting on the thwarted cyberattack on Tesla, Jake Moore, cybersecurity specialist at ESET, told Silicon.co.uk:
“Some of the biggest threats come from physical access to a network, and the insider threat can be extremely difficult to protect against.”