Tesla Employee Sinks Russian Gangster’s Malware Plot
September 2, 2020
The bare facts of a recently-foiled plot to plant malware on Tesla’s computers read like a thriller. In mid-July, a Russian named Egor Igorevich Kruichkov contacted an employee at Tesla’s Gigafactory via WhatsApp, and proposed a meeting. Shortly thereafter Kriuchkov flew to the U.S., bought a burner phone, rented a car and headed for Reno, near where the Tesla Gigafactory is located. He met with the Tesla employee and some associates several times for dinner and drinks, always taking care to stay out of photos, and always footing the bill. Kriuchkov proposed a malware plant the employee would implement, and a generous split of the ransom once Tesla paid, but unbeknownst to him the employee was wearing a wire the FBI had provided when he told them what his free-spending Russian WhatsApp contact had in mind. The data he collected allowed FBI Agent Michael J. Hughes to arrest Kriuchkov and charge him with a “violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 – Conspiracy to Intentionally Cause Damage to a Protected Computer. Tesla CEO Elon Musk was apprised of the plot early-on. He congratulated the employee for his vigilance.
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