Cybersecurity breaches are a no laughing matter. Companies all over the world lose big amounts of money as they reel over the ill effects of such incidents. According to data from website Statista last 2018, companies in the United States (US) incurred an average of $27.37 million worth of damages caused by organized cyberattacks. Japan ranks next with more than $13.57 million worth of damages. And these costs increase as the years pass by. As Savia Lobo suggests in her article, this leads to hackers to devise more sophisticated and better tools in order to make bigger risks to obtain bigger gains. Companies invest annually for better security features but hackers catch up real quick in order to prepare for their next heist.
These attacks have several detrimental implications for the companies that fall victim to its fangs. These include but are not limited to production losses, economic losses, loss of data and so much more. These are heavy stresses that cost money for big, multinational companies with deep pockets. But for smaller businesses, it could almost lead to a death sentence that could lead them to go broke and closing up shop for good.
You could imagine the possible fallout that would occur, if say, a company like Tesla falls victim to such an attack. The most valuable automaker in the world, the effects would ripple through and dominate the headlines for extensive cycles. However, all of these were avoided thanks no other than an employee of the company’s Gigafactory in Nevada which lent a hand in thwarting the cyber hacker’s plans thus preventing a possible catastrophic incident for the electric vehicle (EV) maker.
Insidious forces try to sneak their way in
It all started when a Russian citizen got in touch with a worker employed at the company’s Gigafactory in The Sagebrush State. In an article by Simon Alvarez on Teslarati, the man in question is Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov. He is a Russian citizen that contacted the employee which their identity was kept confidential. Kriuchkov used WhatsApp, a messaging app, to contact the employee in early July. Alvarez divulges that the way the Russian acted suggests that it has done its conducted and done its research well.
The Gigafactory employee, a non-US citizen and speaks Russian, went out with him along with a few colleagues on a trip early August. The event, which is social in nature, went quite well but Kriuchkov exhibited a rather weird action, declining to appear to any photos the group took during the whole affair. After this, the man insisted to meet the employee to discuss ‘business’.
During the meeting, the Russian shared his plans to conduct a cybersecurity attack on Tesla. And what would the employee’s part be in all of this? He would insert malware to the company’s system that would result in a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack and could result in the hackers to take over the whole system. Not only that but it would also steal data from Tesla’s database and would be held ransom until the management coughs up the asking price. He promised that they would give the employee $500,000 for their participation and was later increased to a million.
This would be a ginormous amount of money but the employee remained loyal to Tesla and reported the incident to them. Then, the company reached out to the authorities and teamed up in order to capture the perpetrator. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) got involved and helped the employee to gather more information about the hackers and its inner workings through continued and sustained communication with Kriuchkov. This went on as the FBI worked in the background to nail the guy.
With the continued surveillance, they found out that the hacker and his associates were able to receive more than $4 million in a just recently concluded heist. Mid-August came and the employee, wearing a wire, met with Kriuchkov in order to discuss more details of the plan. A few days later, the Russian informed the Tesla employee that the plan was shelved and the agreed payment details will be moved to a later date. But the most damning information of all is that he shared that he is leaving the area soon.
The authorities were able to catch Kriuchkov in Los Angeles last 22nd of August which was seen as a hasty escape plan to flee the country. As of writing, the FBI has already filed a formal complaint while the suspect is detained awaiting trial.
It takes a lot of nerve to turn down such an offer coming out of nowhere. With all of this behind us now, we can say that the employee deserves a raise and a promotion stat! It’s what the man deserves.