Cryptocurrency Miner Infiltrates a Tesla Cloud Server | News & Opinion


Hackers took advantage of an insecure Tesla server to mine cryptocurrency, according to security firm RedLock.

Cryptocurrency Malware Attacks Spike in January

Hackers recently stole computing power from electric carmaker Tesla in an effort to mine cryptocurrency.

The cybercriminals infected a Tesla cloud server with malware that generates a virtual currency called Monero, according to the security firm RedLock. The scheme wasn’t hard to pull off since Tesla failed to password protect one of its company IT platforms, Kubernetes. This gave the hackers access to login credentials for an Amazon Web Services storage bucket.

The bucket itself contained internal company data pertaining to Tesla’s test cars. On Tuesday, a Tesla spokesman confirmed the breach, but said no “customer privacy or vehicle safety” information was compromised in any way.

RedLock told PCMag it noticed the hack on Jan. 30, and promptly informed Tesla. In an email, the automaker said the company addressed the vulnerability within hours of learning about it.

Tesla Kubernetes Mining

The hackers appear to have been more interested in the server itself. RedLock noticed that the surreptious installation of mining software was sending the cryptocurrency to a hacker-controlled “mining pool.”

It isn’t clear how much the hackers raked in from the server, but Tesla joins a growing number of businesses hit by a cryptocurrency mining scheme. In recent months, cybercriminals have been infecting vulnerable and exposed servers across the internet, seeding them with malware designed to generate the virtual currencies.

The mining generally works by leeching away an infected system’s computing power, which can drag down a its performance. However, the hackers behind the Tesla scheme tried to keep the CPU harnessing discreet. The mining itself didn’t hog a great deal of the servers’ computing resources, RedLock said, and the attackers tried to cover their tracks by hiding the true IP address for their mining pool.

The incident highlights the ongoing problem of cloud storage. Many businesses have ended up exposing sensitive company details by failing to secure their AWS storage buckets online. RedLock estimates that 58 percent of all organizations that use cloud storage services from Amazon, Microsoft, and others have exposed them to the public at some point. The security firm is recommending IT administrators review their systems for any unprotected servers.

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