Well, that mystery is solved.
Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said in a tweet Thursday night that the company was targeted by a “serious” ransomware attack that was thwarted by the FBI.
The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday announced that police had arrested a Russian man accused of offering $1 million to an unnamed person to hack their employer. The plan was to infect the company’s factory, based in Sparks, Nevada, with malware, then direct a distributed denial-of-service attack against its services, knocking it offline. When the victim ultimately paid an extortion fee, attackers’ logic went, hackers would split the proceeds with the inside source.
And the hackers might have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for that meddling employee.
Multiple Tesla-focused blogs reported Thursday that the firm was the intended victim of the scheme, though the reporting wasn’t confirmed until Musk’s tweet.
Much appreciated. This was a serious attack.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 27, 2020
Instead of going along with the plan, and taking the chance to walk off with a cool $1 million, the still-unnamed Tesla worker reported the plan to the company, which went to the FBI. Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, 27, was arrested on Aug. 22 on a single count of conspiring to intentionally cause harm to a protected computer. Agents contacted Kriuchkov before the plan was complete and convinced him to drive to Los Angeles, Calif. for a meeting, where he was arrested, according to the FBI complaint.
An attorney could not be reached for comment.