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Tesla Employee Helps Thwart Cyber Attack on Nevada Gigafactory

Good guy saves EV maker $400 million in ransomware payments
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A worker at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada just made a strong case to be employee of the month—or year for that matter.

Working with the FBI, the unnamed employee helped prevent a cyber attack by Russian hackers that saved Tesla an estimated $400 million in ransomware payoffs and repairs.

Foiled Plot

Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, a 27-year-old Russian citizen, last month traveled to the U.S. on a tourist visa.

Getty Images

He soon approached the Tesla employee, who speaks Russian and has access to the carmaker’s computer networks, and offered that person $1 million to participate in the attack. The employee agreed to help but immediately informed Tesla, which contacted the FBI.

In conjunction with the FBI, the Tesla worker met with Kriuchkov several times in July and August to flesh out the plan. The Tesla worker was to insert malware, provided by Kriuchkov and his associates, to the carmaker’s systems. This would initiate a distributed denial of service attack that would allow the hackers to lock Tesla’s network and access confidential data.

In an Aug. 19 meeting in which the Tesla employee wore an FBI surveillance wire, Kriuchkov agreed to pay an $11,000 advance. On Aug. 22, the hacker said the scheme was being temporarily delayed. The next day he was arrested in Los Angeles as he attempted to flee authorities, according to FBI documents released this week.

In addition to the Tesla plot, the FBI learned that Kriuchkov and his team hacked several other U.S. companies. The list includes CWWT Travel, which reportedly paid the hackers $4.5 million.

Reward?

Tesla hasn’t said how or if it will reward the employee/informant.

But he has at least earned the praise of CEO Elon Musk. In response to a tweet about the situation, Musk offered his thanks by simply retweeting: “Much appreciated. This was a serious attack.”

Hopefully, there also will be some financial remuneration too. Or at least a gold star or plaque.

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