Sometimes a story comes along that is too crazy to be true and yet it is! Such is the case with this attempted Russian ransomware attack.
According to an FBI complaint, the feds thwarted Russian hackers from undertaking a massive ransomware hack and data breach at Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory. The plot involved reaching a Russian-speaking employee and offering him $1 million to introduce malware into the company’s internal computer systems.
“The purpose of the conspiracy was to recruit an employee of a company to surreptitiously transmit malware provided by the coconspirators into the company’s computer system, exfiltrate data from the company’s network, and threaten to disclose the data online unless the company paid the coconspirators’ ransom demand,” prosecutors wrote in the complaint.
It should be noted that the complaint never mentions Tesla specifically but the firm's CEO Elon Musk himself confirmed the attempted attack in a Tweet. In response to a Teslarati article regarding the foiled hack, Musk wrote: “Much appreciated. This was a serious attack.”
Much appreciated. This was a serious attack.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 27, 2020
The plan saw a 27-year-old Russian hacker named Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov visit the United States this summer. Once there, he reached out to a Russian-speaking employee who has remained anonymous.
He wined and dined him and once he felt close enough to him offered him an exorbitant $1 million dollars to hack Tesla's Nevada Gigafactory. The employee didn't bite and instead reached out to Tesla and told the firm everything.
Tesla then contacted the FBI and together they set up a sting to catch the Russian hacker. The employee continued his contact with the Russian hacker but now recorded everything and also accumulated other evidence which resulted in an arrest.
If you think this story is straight out of a Bond film, we could not agree more. If you want to know more about the sordid details we recommend you check out the complaint which reads like an action novel.