Crims with ties to Tesla and SpaceX 'fess up to computerized conspiracies

Russian chap tried to crack Tesla security, SpaceX engineer traded dodgy info on dark web stock tipping forums


The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has revealed that two sets of crooks have confessed to conspiracies against companies led by Elon Musk.

One of the incidents saw a Russian national plead guilty to a conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer.

Twenty-seven year-old Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov travelled to the US in August 2020 to recruit an employee of an unnamed large Nevada-based company to inject data exfiltrating malware into the system in exchange for Bitcoin or cash worth US$1M dollars. The extracted data was to be used to extort the company in exchange for a ransom, said the official criminal complaint [PDF] filed by the FBI's Las Vegas Field Office.

In response to media reports identifying the company in question as Tesla, Elon Musk appeared to assented to that analysis in a 2020 Tweet.

Whatever the target, the malware would initially have manifested as a distributed denial of Service attack to occupy the company’s computer security staff and conceal a second attack, which would exfiltrate the data from the computer network and into the possession of Kriuchkov’s organization.

The Russian national stated in dealings with his target that he had pulled this stunt off multiple times in other companies. Those efforts started three-and-a-half years before his run at Tesla.

Evidently, Kriuchkov picked the wrong target because the staffer reported the scheme to his employer who then contacted the FBI.

In the other plotline, a Florida U.S. Attorney’s Office reports that a (presumably former) SpaceX engineer named James Roland Jones - aka “Millionaire Mike” - has pled guilty to insider trading.

Jones bought fake social security numbers and other personal identifiable information which he used to establish and operate accounts he used to conduct trades informed by insider information.

"Millionaire Mike" eventually attracted the attention of an undercover FBI employee who tipped him off about activities at a publicly traded US company. Jones/Mike was later observed conducting transactions in the relevant company.

Tesla wins defamation counterclaim against Gigafactory whistleblower

READ MORE

Jones also faces an action by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which has charged him with perpetrating a fraudulent scheme to sell insider tips on the dark web.

The Level II Manufacturing Engineer, according to lingering evidence of his now removed LinkedIn profile, shopped information on dark web stock-tipping marketplaces.

"According to the complaint, several users paying in bitcoin purchased these tips and ultimately traded based on the information Jones provided," the SEC says. Jones faces a maximum of five years in federal prison. Kriuchkov will be sentenced in May. ®

Similar topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading
  • Cloud security unicorn cuts 20% of staff after raising $1.3b
    Time to play blame bingo: Markets? Profits? Too much growth? Russia? Space aliens?

    Cloud security company Lacework has laid off 20 percent of its employees, just months after two record-breaking funding rounds pushed its valuation to $8.3 billion.

    A spokesperson wouldn't confirm the total number of employees affected, though told The Register that the "widely speculated number on Twitter is a significant overestimate."

    The company, as of March, counted more than 1,000 employees, which would push the jobs lost above 200. And the widely reported number on Twitter is about 300 employees. The biz, based in Silicon Valley, was founded in 2015.

    Continue reading
  • Talos names eight deadly sins in widely used industrial software
    Entire swaths of gear relies on vulnerability-laden Open Automation Software (OAS)

    A researcher at Cisco's Talos threat intelligence team found eight vulnerabilities in the Open Automation Software (OAS) platform that, if exploited, could enable a bad actor to access a device and run code on a targeted system.

    The OAS platform is widely used by a range of industrial enterprises, essentially facilitating the transfer of data within an IT environment between hardware and software and playing a central role in organizations' industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) efforts. It touches a range of devices, including PLCs and OPCs and IoT devices, as well as custom applications and APIs, databases and edge systems.

    Companies like Volvo, General Dynamics, JBT Aerotech and wind-turbine maker AES are among the users of the OAS platform.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022