Russian national, 27, pleads guilty in Tesla data extortion plot

Russian national, 27, admits trying to steal data from Tesla to use for extortion: Elon Musk tweets ‘Crime and Punishment’ in Russian as sentencing looms

  • Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, 27, tried persuading a Tesla employee to help install malware on the company’s network to help steal company data
  • Kriuchkov would’ve used data to extort the company by threatening disclosure 
  • He pleaded guilty to intentionally causing damage to a protected computer
  • Kriuchkov will be sentenced on May 10, facing a maximum of 10 months in jail 

A Russian national who attempted to steal data from Tesla and use it to extort the company is pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy.

Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, 27, is facing up to 10 months in prison

Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, 27, tried persuading an unnamed employee at the company’s electric battery plant in Nevada to join the scheme multiple times, from July 15 to August 22.

Kriuchkov allegedly offered the employee $1 million in Bitcoin if he would help transmit the malware into the company’s network.

From there, Kriuchkov hoped to steal the data from the company, only to turn around and extort Tesla by threatening to disclose the data.

There has been no indication that the malware could’ve been used to hack into the company’s cars themselves.

Kriuchkov was arrested in late August while trying to flee the country after the employee he contacted – who he met with once – told company officials, who turned it over to the FBI.

The New York Daily News reports Kriuchkov faces a maximum of 10 months in prison for intentionally causing damage to a protected computer.

Kriuchkov will be sentenced on May 10. 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk responded to the news of Kriuchkov’s plea by tweeting ‘Crime and Punishment,’ albeit in Russian. 

‘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,’ Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas McQuaid said in a statement about the case.

Elon Musk celebrated the guilty plea by tweeting ‘Crime and Punishment’ in Russian

‘This case highlights the importance of companies coming forward to law enforcement, and the positive results when they do so.’

Kriuchkov traveled from Russia to California before initiating his scheme and according to Engadget, his travels were done at the request of a Russian cybercrime gang.

Last month, more information emerged about how Russian hackers managed to steal data from the likes of the Pentagon and various Fortune 500 companies.

Kriuchkov tried to convince an employee at Tesla’s Nevada battery plant to transmit malware 

There’s no indication that the malware could’ve done damage to the fleet of electric cars

Around 18,000 users downloaded the Russian malware in the SolarWinds hack, which helped hackers infiltrate various systems, according to the New York Times.

Additionally, one of the rioters at the Capitol on January 6 was accused of stealing Nancy Pelosi’s laptop with the intent of selling it to Russia.

The FBI were told by a tipster that Riley June Williams, 22, was going to sell the laptop to the Russian intelligence services, according to NBC News.

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