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Russian Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy To Introduce Malware Into Tesla's Computer Network

The U.S. Justice Department says Yegor Kryuchkov offered a Tesla employee $1 million to install malicious software to get access to the firm's networks as part of an extortion scheme.

A Russian citizen who was arrested in the United States last summer has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to introduce malware into the computer network of automaker Tesla.

The U.S. Justice Department said on March 18 that Yegor Kryuchkov pleaded guilty in federal court "for conspiring to travel to the United States to recruit an employee of a Nevada company into a scheme to introduce malicious software into the company’s computer network."

According to the statement, in the summer of 2020, the 27-year-old Kryuchkov and his accomplices tried to bribe a company employee, offering him $1 million to install malicious software to get access to the firm's network so that Kryuchkov could extort cash from Tesla by threatening to make the stolen data public.

The statement does not mention the name of the company targeted by Kryuchkov, but Tesla founder Elon Musk said ealier that it was his company that the man and his accomplices tried to attack.

"[Kryuchkov] pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer and is scheduled to be sentenced May 10," the Justice Department's statement said.

"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 L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said. “This case highlights the importance of companies coming forward to law enforcement, and the positive results when they do so.”

Kryuchkov was arrested on August 22 in Los Angeles. Initially, he had entered a plea of not guilty.