Foiled cyberattack targeted Tesla.
A Russia-based hacker group tried and failed to recruit a Tesla employee to install malware on the car manufacturer's internal corporate networks, Teslarati reports. The FBI arrested a 27-year-old Russian national on Monday in Los Angeles in connection with the scheme. The Justice Department didn't name the company in question, but Elon Musk confirmed on Twitter that it was Tesla.
According to the criminal complaint, the defendant, Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, allegedly contacted a Russian-speaking Tesla employee with whom he had previously been acquainted and arranged to meet with the employee while Kriuchkov was vacationing in the US. Kriuchkov socialized with the employee and the employee's friends for several days in Nevada and California, with Kriuchkov covering all their expenses. After a few days, while the two were drinking heavily at a bar, Kriuchkov revealed that he was working for a "group" on a "special project," and offered the employee $500,000 (later upped to $1,000,000) to plant custom-made malware within Tesla's network. Kriuchkov said the group was paying $250,000 to develop the malware specifically for Tesla's network. The attackers' plan was apparently to steal sensitive files and threaten to publish them unless the company paid a ransom of several million dollars. The group would also launch a DDoS attack to distract Tesla's security team while the data was being exfiltrated.
After Kriuchkov revealed his intentions, the employee reported the incident to Tesla and worked with the FBI to record subsequent meetings with Kriuchkov. During these meetings, Kriuchkov said his group had successfully extorted at least two other companies in this manner. Kriuchkov was arrested on August 22nd while trying to leave the US and has been charged with one count of conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer.
Brett Callow from Emsisoft noted in a comment to WIRED, "This is what happens when you hand billions to ransomware groups. If they can’t access a network via their usual methods, they can afford to simply buy their way in. Or try to. Tesla got lucky."