The U.S. Justice Department announced on Thursday that the Russian national Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov (27), who attempted to convince a Tesla employee to install malware on the company’s computers, has pleaded guilty.
“A Russian national pleaded guilty in federal court today for conspiring to travel to the United States to recruit an employee of a Nevada company into a scheme to introduce malicious software into the company’s computer network.” read a press release published by the DoJ.
In September Kriuchkov has been indicted in the United States for conspiring to recruit a Tesla employee to install malware onto the company’s network.
The man was arrested on August 22 and appeared in court on August 24. Kriuchkov offered $1 million to the unfaithful employee of the US company.
Kriuchkov conspired with other criminals to recruit the employee of an unnamed company in Nevada. At the end of August, Elon Musk confirmed that Russian hackers attempted to recruit an employee to install malware into the network of electric car maker Tesla.
Teslarati confirmed that the employee contacted by the crooks is a Russian-speaking, non-US citizen working at Tesla-owned lithium-ion battery and electric vehicle subassembly factory Giga Nevada.
The Russian man and his co-conspirators were planning to exfiltrate data from the network of the company and blackmail the organization to leak stolen data, unless the company paid a ransom demand.
A few days after meeting the employee, Kriuchkov exposed his plan to the employee offering him between $500,000 and $1,000,000 for the dirty job. The malware would provide Kriuchkov and co-conspirators, the malicious code was specifically designed to steal information from Tesla.
The employee decided to warn Tesla and the company reported the attempt to the FBI. The employee had more meetings with Kriuchkov that were surveilled by the FBI. On August 22, the FBI arrested Kriuchkov.
“The swift response of the company and the FBI prevented a major exfiltration of the victim company’s data and stopped the extortion scheme at its inception,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “This case highlights the importance of companies coming forward to law enforcement, and the positive results when they do so.”
“This case highlights our office’s commitment to protecting trade secrets and other confidential information belonging to U.S. businesses — which is becoming even more important each day as Nevada evolves into a center for technological innovation,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Christopher Chiou for the District of Nevada. “Along with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to prioritize stopping cybercriminals from harming American companies and consumers.”
“This is an excellent example of community outreach resulting in strong partnerships, which led to proactive law enforcement action before any damage could occur,” said Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse of the FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office.
Kriuchkov will be sentenced on May 10.
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(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Tesla)
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