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Did Tesla Become A New Victim Of Ransomware?

“This was a serious attack.”

In a series of tweets, engineers, industrial designers, technology entrepreneur, and philanthropist Elon Musk burst this after an attack took place in one of his companies, Tesla.

The vehicle company, which prides in a 1.9 million-square-foot factory, was said to have been targeted by a cyber hack which involves an unnamed employee, and a 27-year old Russian.

According to the billionaire, the scheme ath the facility in Sparks, Nevada, which produces batteries for Tesla vehicles and energy storage components.

Further investigation revealed that the employee Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov recruited a fellow Russian speaker who worked at the plant. This is the defendant statement submitted to the US District Court in Nevada, which is aiming them at a criminal complaint.

The unnamed worker reached out to him via WhatsApp in July, pushing Kriuchkov to fly to the United States with a Russian passport on a tourist visa and required to tempt the worker to betray Tesla.

Kriuchkov ushered the employee, who he’d first met in 2016, on a road trip to Lake Tahoe before giving the person USD 1 million to insert malware on computer systems at an unnamed company.

Moreover, he drifted the scheme at a Reno-area bar on August 3 after they got deeply sober until the last call, stated by the complaints.

Yet, the secret was let out of the bag. The involved worker became a whistleblower and informed Tesla, who tagged along with the FBI and won the employee’s cooperation.

During the follow thru meetings tracked by federal agents, Kriuchkov devised a scheme to have the worker infect Tesla computers with a program that would snip valuable data before scrambling plant systems with ransomware.

The plan is that the inside job would be cloaked with a distributed denial-of-service-attack on plant computers from outside. Those kinds of attacks overwhelm servers with junk traffic. If Tesla didn’t pay, the stolen data would be distributed on the open internet.

In similar occasions, there were also “special projects” on other companies on multiple occasions, with one victim allegedly yielding a USD 4 million ransom payment.

On the other hand, The US Attorney’s office kept mum about the linkage of this incident to the Russian Government.

Tesla is an extra high profile target, which could lead to more profits. It leads the US in electric vehicle sales, and the hackers could have obtained valuable information from battery chemistry to manufacturing techniques and costs. Tesla has said the factory had cut battery cell costs through innovative manufacturing.

Kriuchkov was nabbed August 22 after driving from Reno to Los Angeles.

His appearance and surrender in federal court there Monday and was sued with conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer, according to the Nevada US Attorney Nicholas Trutanich.

Meanwhile, the conviction could result in a sentence of five years in prison and a USD 250,000 fine. Court records did not immediately reflect the name of an attorney who could speak on Kriuchkov’s behalf.

As to the specific documents, there were no on hand as per the report. Also, the criminal complaint and a supporting affidavit by examining FBI Special Agent Michael Hughes telling that the unnamed works are trying to get a stash in the said slashed funds.

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