Tesla Employee Turned Down $1 Million To Help FBI Stop Cybersecurity Attack
Would you turn down a million bucks for the good of your employer? Well, that happened recently when a worker in Gigafactory Nevada turned down a $1 million incentive to work closely with the FBI and thwart a planned cybersecurity attack against the automaker.
The Department of Justice announced that Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, a Russian citizen accused of conspiring to breach the Tesla network and introduce malware, was arrested. In addition, the FBI Las Vegas Field Office has suggested that the attempted cybersecurity attack isn’t your run-of-the-mill hacking attempt and may be part of a well-financed, organized, scheme.
It all began when Kriuchkov contacted a Russian-speaking, non-US citizen employed at Tesla’s Gigafactory Nevada. The unidentified employee was chosen for a specific purpose – they have access to the automaker’s computer networks. Last month Kriuchkov contacted the employee and asked them to meet up.
Shortly after, the Tesla employee and some colleagues met Kriuchkov, even taking a trip to Lake Tahoe. The employee reported that Kriuchkov reportedly declined to be in any photos on the trip or acknowledge that he was taking place in any social activities.
Later, during a “business” meeting, Kriuchkov informed the Tesla employee of his plan to insert malware he provided to Tesla’s systems. After inserting the malware, a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack would occur that could allow the hackers to occupy the Tesla information security team. The malware would allow hackers to have access to corporate and network data, which would be held ransom. For his trouble, the Gigafactory Nevada employee would be paid $1 million via cash or bitcoin.
Unfortunately for Kriuchkov, the Tesla employee instead reported the planned cybersecurity attack and Tesla contacted the FBI. The FBI stepped in and had the Tesla employee continue to communicate with Kriuchkov in order to get as much information as possible. After talking with Kriuchkov, it was discovered that he and his team had recently received a ransom worth over $4 million from CWT Travel.
Earlier this month, the Tesla employee wore a wire and met with Kriuchkov who agreed to pay an advance of $11,000 to the Giga Nevada worker. Two days later the employee was contacted by Kriuchkov who claimed the project was being “delayed” and all payments would not be transferred until later before telling the Tesla employee that he was leaving town the next day. The FBI was able to get in touch with Kriuchkov who attempted to flee the United States.
Kriuchkov was arrested before he could skip town on August 22, 2020, in Los Angeles and is currently being detained pending trial. You can read the FBI’s complaint against Kriuchkov below: