Tesla founder Elon Musk has confirmed that an employee was offered $1million by a Russian to install a virus.
Fortunately, the employee did not accept the bribe.
US authorities arrested the Russian national this week after they travelled to the US as a ‘tourist’ but reportedly had the intent of attacking Tesla with malware.
Tesla hasn’t commented publicly on the matter but Musk responded to a tweeted news article about the plot and his employee turning down the $1million.
He wrote: “Much appreciated. This was a serious attack.”
According to court documents, a Russian man named Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov messaged the Tesla employee via WhatsApp after previously meeting in 2016.
The 27-year-old said he was on holiday and asked to meet up with the Tesla employee.
They met up several times and Kriuchkov told the employee he was working with a Russian-based hacker group.
He asked the Tesla employee if they would install custom-built malware on the company’s internal network for a hefty reward.
The malware reportedly cost around $250,000 and was designed to steal sensitive Tesla files and data.
The hackers apparently wanted the data so they could ask for a large ransom not to release it.
The FBI described the Tesla employee as a ‘Russian-speaking immigrant’.
They told the FBI and Tesla about the Russian hacking plot after the first meeting.
This led to a plan for the subsequent meetings of the employee and the hacker to be recorded, including when the employee negotiated the price up from $500,000 to $1million.
The Russian hacker was also documented saying the hack would have to be delayed until later this year because his criminal group were focusing on a different company they had targeted.
The Russian was arrested as he tried to leave the US over the weekend.
He’s been charged and, if found guilty, he could face up to five years in prison.