Tesla’splant in Nevada was the target of an attempted cyberattack, CEO Elon Musk confirmed on Thursday. The confirmation follows reports of the thwarted attempt, although the company had not spoken publicly about the situation. Musk tweeted that it “was a serious attack.”
The US Department of Justice earlier this week announced the arrest of a Russian national and described a plot to introduce malware “into a Nevada company’s computer network.” The DoJ did not mention Tesla by name in the announcement. As part of the plan, the Russian individual allegedly worked to recruit an employee at Tesla’s Gigafactory to introduce the malware. Ultimately, their goal was to steal data and hold the information for ransom, according to the DoJ. The targeted employee was to receive a bribe of $1 million to carry out the attack, the complaint alleged.
The Tesla employee instead notified the FBI and worked with the agency to thwart the theft, leading to the arrest. The suspect attempted to flee the US after the FBI initially made contact. The DoJ charged the suspect with one count of conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer.
Musk said the employee’s actions are “much appreciated” in the same tweet. Tesla did not immediately respond to Roadshow’s request for comment.