Tesla’s Chief Executive has confirmed reports of a ransomware attack targeted at the company
The hacker behind the attack, a Russian national, intended to ask for a $1 million ransom in Bitcoin. The attack was, however, foiled by the FBI after Tesla employees came forward. Musk, via a tweet, confirmed that an employee at the Nevada factory had been approached and offered an upfront payment of $1 million and one bitcoin to facilitate the attack.
The employee was asked to install the ransomware on Tesla’s computer network that would then infect the whole system. Instead, the employee shared the news with other members of the Tesla staff, who then proceeded to contact the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The FBI arrested a man, aged 27, in Los Angeles on August 22. Court documents confirmed his identity as Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov and his nationality as Russian. He now faces a jail term of up to five years if found guilty after he was charged in court last week.
Elon Musk labelled the act as “a serious attack.” It is worth noting that Elon Musk was also among the many high-profile Twitter users that had been victims of a Bitcoin-based hack in July.
The California-based EV maker has an estimated market cap of $465 billion, making it the biggest carmaker in the world by market value. The company’s executive is reported to have personal fortunes in excess of $100 billion.
Bitcoin is, by far, the most popular crypto in the world, but not everything about it is positive. The crypto coin has been the favourite tool used by cybercriminals to exploit victims on the internet. According to an FBI study, malware victims have been forced to pay over $140 million in the last six years.
Ransomware hackers encrypt their victim’s files and perpetually block their access to those files or sometimes the whole system. They then demand a ransom, often in cryptocurrency, to decrypt the files, failure to which the hacker might threaten to delete or publish the files.
These attacks have become even more rampant during this pandemic period as cybercriminals take advantage of the Work from Home approach. Back in April, the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) reported an increase in ransomware attacks.