Malware attempt against Tesla; hackers aimed Nevada Gigafactory, says Elon Musk.

malware attempt against tesla

On August 2020, a Russian scammer was arrested by the U.S Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) by the charges of conspiring to plant to malware in the Nevada company of Tesla motors for a ransomware attack.

The Russian hacker Egor Kriuchkov offered 1 million dollars to an employee at Nevada Gigafactory to plant the malware.

While the name of the company was withheld in the court, Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX disclosed that the hacker has targeted his other company Tesla.

As per the information from the investigation, the Russian hacker told the employee that he works for a ‘group’ that specializes in such complex attacks. He also added that his group has successfully claimed 5 million dollars from a previous attack.

Kriuchkov said that he was also working for another hacker who had good connection with high-level government banks in Russia.

However the plan was totally numb when the employee refused the offer and informed the organization and FBI about this.

Unfortunately Kriuchkov was arrested by the FBI while he was trying to escape to his motherland.

Elon Musk further tweeted that,

The incident

Kriuchkov found an employee, which he thought would fall for his golden offer, in the Nevada Company. He contacted the employee through Whatsapp on July, 2020.

Kriuchkov then travelled to U.S using a tourist visa in order to discuss the plot with the employee on a trip to Lake Tahoe. However during the trip, Kriuchkov did not allow himself to be photographed and rather told that he just wanted to remember the beauty of the sunset and did not need a photograph.

After the trip, he asked the employee to have a meeting with him for some business.

As the second meeting commenced, both had a small party after which Kriuchkov revealed his plan to the employee. He also suggested that there would be two attacks. The first one will be launched by the ‘group’ when the employee successfully planted the malware. The attack would be a distributed denial-of-service attack. While the security team of Tesla would be behind this scam, the malware would fortunately encrypt the data and hold it for ransom.

As per the documents, Kriuchkov first offered him with 500,000 dollars and when he refused the amount, Kriuchkov doubled the payment to 1 million dollar which will be paid either by cash or Bitcoin.

During the conversation the hacker also revealed that his group had grabbed 4.5 million dollars from CWT travel attack.

As the plot was being discussed with Kriuchkov, the employee mentioned that the Confidential Human Source No.1 (CHS1) was recording their entire conversation. Due to this the hacker offered him a burner phone and asked him to place it in airplane mode until the first 50,000 dollar transaction was successful.

But on the following day, the employee informed the Tesla’s security team about the issue and the team passed this information to the FBI which finally led to the arrest of Kriuchkov.

Ransomware is a simple, plain and extortion. The main intention of the ransomware is to freeze a business organization through its computer system by encrypting the files and data. Thee hackers will then demand for a ransom amount after which they will provide the decryption key to unlock the files.

On the successful payment of the ransom, the attacker returns the data to the owners. But this may depend upon the type of attackers and their behaviour.

The law enforcement discourages in paying ransom as it will only encourage hackers to more attacks.

Preventing the Tesla attack was not the end. FBI is investigating more about Kriuchkov’s group and their plan about future attacks.

How to react to a ransomware attack?

  • Isolate your computer

When you find that you are under a ransomware attack just disconnect from all the networks and internet. By doing this helps to isolate your computer and minimize the chance of ransomware spreading to other systems.

  • Never pay the ransomware

Even when demanded by the cybercriminals, never pay the amount. Never indulge in negotiation with the hacker. This is no guarantee that they will relieve the data when the ransom is paid.

  • Start ransomware removal

Get rid of the ransomware that infected your system through the following steps:

  1. Disconnect from internet
  2. Run a scan using internet security software.
  3. Use ransomware decryption tool.
  4. Restore files from back-up.

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