Russia Hacks Tesla
By John Mikko Velasquez
In early August, a team of Russian hackers attempted to steal sensitive data from Tesla, by offering a Tesla employee money to install malware on Tesla’s softwares. The malware would have allowed the Russian hackers to extort millions from Tesla for the sensitive data. However, the Tesla employee reported this to the FBI which led to the arrest of 27-year-old Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, one of the Russian hackers.
Tesla was created by a group of engineers with a goal of having a more robust environment with the integration of electric vehicles. Tesla believes the faster the world starts using zero-emission vehicles and stops using fossil fuels, the healthier the world would be. Today, Tesla is making $450 billion in revenues.
Kriuchkov first made contact with the Tesla employee several years ago. He then contacted him again on July 16 via WhatsApp. Two weeks later, Kriuchkov and the Tesla employee hung out for a few days. Kriuchkov revealed his true intentions to the Tesla employee on the evening of August 3. Kriuchkov and his team of Russian hackers offered this Tesla employee $1 million to install malware to Tesla’s softwares. However, the Tesla employee instead reported this to the FBI. As a result, Kriuchkov got arrested. Also, this malware cost $250,000 to develop. The malware would steal files from the Tesla softwares and then the Russian hackers will threaten to release the data until a certain amount of ransom is made.
Kriuchkov and his team of Russian hackers’ criminal act is called an insider threat. An insider threat is when the company’s employee launches a cyberattack against it and usually it is a pernicious way of hacking. According to the FBI, the team of Russian hackers were attempting to extort Tesla in hopes of getting $4 million. This type of criminal business is called ransomware. Ransomware criminals usually target businesses by crippling their computers then stealing the data. If the attack is successful, the ransomware criminals would often get millions of dollars. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, these kinds of criminal acts are a common occurrence. Last year, $3.5 billion were lost by businesses and individuals to hackers.
Also, Kriuchkov allegedly told the Tesla employee that this type of criminal act was normal for him and his team. Most of the time, they’d pay an employee a certain amount of money and then the employee installs the malware on the company’s computers, while the hackers launch a distributed-denial-of-service attack (DDoS) which disguises the theft of valuable data. However, thanks to the Tesla employees’ righteousness, Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov was arrested. Kriuchkov will face a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison including a $250,000 fine. Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, confirmed on Twitter that it was an attack on a Gigafactory in Nevada. He called it a “serious attack” and thanked the employee and the FBI.