Elon Musk reveals Tesla was target of 'serious' cyberattack resulting in arrest of Russian national

Elon Musk reveals Tesla was target of ‘serious’ cyberattack resulting in arrest of Russian national

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Thursday his electric car-maker was targeted in a “serious” cyberattack that recently led to the arrest of a Russian national, Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov.

Mr. Musk identified Tesla as the company Mr. Kriuchkov is accused of trying to infiltrate before he was arrested Saturday and charged with conspiracy to commit computer hacking.

The Department of Justice announced Monday that Mr. Kriuchkov was in custody in connection with allegedly trying to hack, rob and bribe an unnamed company located in Nevada.

Mr. Musk confirmed Tesla was the intended victim two days later when he corroborated an article published by Teslarati, a blog that specializes in news related to the carmaker.

The blog reported that a Russian-speaking worker at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada, was offered $1 million to help with the hacking scheme but alerted the FBI who then intervened.

“Much appreciated,” Mr. Musk said on Twitter in response to the article. “This was a serious attack.”

Prosecutors allege that Mr. Kriuchkov, 27, first reached out in July to a Russian-speaking acquaintance employed at the targeted company and planned to visit him the next month.

They spent a few days together in early August, according to prosectors, including one instance in which Mr. Kriuchkov allegedly revealed his intentions after a night of drinking.

“The purpose of the conspiracy was to recruit an employee of a company to surreptitiously transmit malware provided by the coconspirators into the company’s computer system, exfiltrate data from the company’s network and threaten to disclose the data online unless the company paid the coconspirators’ ransom demand,” the Justice Department explained in the complaint announced Tuesday.

Mr. Kriuchkov met and spoke with the employee a number of times in August, including several meetings monitored and recorded by the FBI, according to charging documents unsealed this week.

He allegedly said during their last meeting that the operation would be delayed and that he would be leaving the area imminently. The FBI arrested him the next day in Los Angeles.

A magistrate judge ordered Mr. Kriuchkov held pending trial. Court records do not list a lawyer to reach for comment.

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