Federal authorities say that they have arrested a Russian national who tried to hack Tesla’s company network.

This week, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that 27 year old Russian citizen Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov had been arrested and charged with one count of conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer.

According to a DOJ news release, Kriuchkov travelled to Sparks, Nevada, where Tesla’s Gigafactory is located and from around July 15, 2020 to about August 22, 2020, Kriuchkov allegedly conspired to bribe a Tesla employee to introduce malware into Tesla’s company network that would allow Kriuchkov and his co-conspirators to access Tesla’s computer networks.

The DOJ says Kriuchkov planned to extract data from Tesla’s network and to threaten to expose it to the public if a ransom was not paid.

Kriuchkov reportedly promised to pay the employee $1 million after the malware was introduced. Kriuchkov even went so far as to provide the employee with a burner phone and told him to leave it on airplane mode until after the malware was introduced and the $1 million bribe was transferred.

However, the employee contacted the FBI, who then contacted Kriuchkov. After he was contacted by the FBI, Kriuchkov drove overnight from Reno to Los Angeles and tried to have an acquaintance purchase a plane ticket for him to leave the country.

Kriuchkov was arrested in Los Angeles on August 22.

If convicted, he faces a  maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

“As Nevada’s economy diversifies and evolves into a center for technological innovation, our office will continue to prioritize protecting trade secrets and other confidential information belonging to U.S. businesses,” said U.S. Attorney Nicholas Trutanich. “Working with our law enforcement partners, we are committed to holding accountable anyone who plots to use malicious cyber tactics to harm American consumers and companies.”

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