US-based electric carmaker Tesla working closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has thwarted a planned ransomware attack that involved millions worth of Bitcoin payments.
According to a complaint that was filed by the FBI, the attackers were targeting Tesla’s Gigafactory situated in Nevada.
The FBI revealed that it arrested a 27-year-old Russian. Pavel Kriuchkov, who was residing in Los Angeles. he had lived almost a month in the United States looking to rope in as a Tesla employee for what he called a ‘special project.’
The FBI’s claim states that the ‘special project’ involved a lucrative incentive of a bribe amounting to $500,000, which was later upgraded to $1 million. An advance bribe was to be paid into the employee’s Bitcoin wallet that was installed via a Tor browser to avoid detection.
The Tesla employee was to help in the installation of malware into Tesla’s servers that were to be carried out in two stages consisting of a distributed denial-of-service attack as well as stealing of sensitive company data.
The attack was to involve holding Tesla to a ransom with threats of making vital private data and information public. The FBI states that Kriuchkov was eyeing a $4 million ransom from Tesla.
However, the Tesla employee who remains anonymous alerted the company’s management following the first meeting with Kriuchkov. It is at this juncture that Tesla informed the FBI about the hacking plot.
The FBI then went ahead to surveil a number of meetings in August between Kriuchov and the anonymous employees. This allowed the FBI to collect vital intelligence in regards to the hacking plot against Tesla and other related cyberattacks by Kriuchov and his accomplices.
The conspirator was planning to deposit a $1 million to the Russian-speaking anonymous Tesla employee’s Bitcoin account. Kruichov revealed to the staffer that the money would be deposited in a few days but was to leave the country on August 22. However, the hacker was arrested by the FBI on August 22.