Russian hacker pleads guilty to bribing Tesla worker with $1 million in bitcoin

A Russian national pleaded in federal court that he attempted to recruit a Tesla worker to hack the company’s systems with the objective of stealing sensitive information from the electric vehicle maker’s computer network.

Based on his plea agreement, Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, 27, traveled to the United States in late July and met with an unnamed Tesla worker from the company’s Reno, Nevada gigafactory plant on several occasions throughout August.

Kriuchkov repeatedly tried to convince the Tesla employee at the company’s battery facility to take part in the hacking scheme, offering to pay the employee $1 million worth of Bitcoin (BTC) to run malicious software into Tesla’s database, according to authorities.

Possible 10 months behind bars

In a plea proceeding on Thursday, Kriuchkov agreed to plead guilty for “conspiracy to deliberately cause damage to a protected computer,” the Insider reported. Kriuchkov is set to be sentenced on May 10. He could spend up to 10 months in prison.

Tesla chief executive officer Elon Musk later confirmed that the company was the target of a hacking attempt by a Russian national and his cohorts.

According to prosecutors, Kriuchkov acted on behalf of his co-conspirators overseas and tried to recruit the Tesla worker to upload the malicious program, which scrambles data on targeted systems and can only be unlocked with a specific operating system key given by the attackers.

Attempted hack foiled

Kriuckkov said the ransomware would be camouflaged with a so-called distributed denial of service attack on the hacked system from outside in order to distort the servers with an overload of junk traffic, the Associated Press reported, citing court records.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said the unnamed recruit informed Tesla and cooperated with the agents, and the plot was foiled before any further damage occurred.

“This case highlights our office’s commitment to protecting trade secrets and other confidential information belonging to U.S. businesses,” Acting Nevada U.S. Attorney Christopher Chiou said in a statement.


Image courtesy of Sora Shimazaki/Pexels

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