As Tesla gains popularity, it comes as no surprise that it has piqued the interest of criminals. An example of this interest can be seen from the recent arrest made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Close to carrying out a ransomware attack against Tesla, a young Russian citizen, along with his co-conspirators, was arrested.
The FBI arrested the 27-year-old Pavel Kriuchkov on 22nd August. Kriuchkov is a Russian citizen who was arrested in Los Angeles. He is believed to be in pursuit of recruiting a Tesla Staffer in the last month. The staffer working at the firm’s Gigafactory Nevada site was approached by Kriuchkov to collude.
While Kriuchkov was preparing his attack and coming close to the deadline, he was unaware that his target had already turned them in. The United States FBI unsealed a criminal complaint against this team of cybercriminals in regards to the conspiracy against Tesla.
Tesla Attacked In Secretive Manner
The staffer pursued by these criminals was promised a handsome reward. A bribe of $500,000 which later rose to $1 million. The process involved an advance payment that was to be paid to the staffer through Bitcoins(BTC) which would go directly into his Bitcoin wallet. This wallet had to be installed using a Tor browser to evade the authorities.
In exchange for the bribe, the staffer was required to help them install malware. This attack against Tesla was divided into two parts, a distributed denial-of-service and the extraction of sensitive company data.
If things were to go according to their plan, Kriuchkov and his conspirators were planning to hold the company to a ransom of $4 million under the threat of leaking the sensitive information. But little did the cybercriminals know that as soon as Kriuchkov met with the staffer, he alerted Tesla and subsequently the FBI was brought into the picture.
The FBI agents wire-tapped the meetings between Kriuchkov and the staffer along with physical surveillance of their meetings in August. This was done to accumulate enough evidence about the cyberattack and collect intelligence about their operations.
According to the communications between Kriuchkov and the staffer tapped by the FBI, one of the conspirators was a hacker. This hacker was a specialist in encryption and is believed to be a high-level employee of a Russian govt. bank.
A Series of Meetings
The series of meetings also included a trip to Lake Tahoe in California where Kriuchkov, the staffer and both of the conspirators went together. The bills were paid by Kriuchkov but he remained aloof from any group photographs saying that he wants to “remember the beauty of the sunset” without any photographs.
Later on August 21, the staffer was informed by Kriuchkov that the attack was being delayed. He also informed the staffer that he would be leaving Nevada on the next day. He was arrested on August 22 and is currently in detention pending trial.
Tesla has not been mentioned in the FBI’s criminal complaint and the identity of the staffer has also not been revealed. But, according to the Tesla news site Teslarati, the company is confirmed as being the target of this attack.