Feds indict Swiss hacker behind massive Verkada security camera breach

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The feds have filed criminal charges against a prolific Swiss hacker who took credit for breaking into more than 150,000 security cameras run by a Silicon Valley startup.

A Seattle grand jury indicted Tillie Kottmann, the 21-year-old hacktivist who claimed to be behind last week’s massive breach of Verkada, which allowed hackers to peep on prisons, schools, hospitals and major companies such as Tesla.

Known by the monikers “deletescape” and “tillie crimew,” Kottmann has hacked dozens of companies and government agencies and published private data from more than 100 entities on the internet since 2019, prosecutors say.

While it doesn’t mention the Verkada attack, the Thursday indictment focuses on eight hacks that Kottmann, who uses they/them pronouns, carried out from February 2020 to January of this year.

The targets included six private companies, a federal contractor and the Washington State Department of Transportation, the feds said. Prosecutors didn’t name any of the firms, but descriptions in the indictment match Kottmann’s past statements about their hacks of Japanese automaker Nissan and computer-chip giant Intel.

Prosecutors noted that Kottmann openly boasted about some of the hacks in Twitter posts, like one from May 2020 that said, “i love helping companies open their source code.”

The feds also claim Kottmann and others promoted their hacking and made money “by designing and selling clothing and paraphernalia related to computer hacking activity and anti-intellectual-property ideology.”

Kottmann is still in Lucerne, Switzerland, but has been made aware of the charges, which came about a week after Swiss authorities carried out search warrants related to the alleged hacks, according to the feds.

Kottmann didn’t immediately respond to a Twitter message seeking comment. But they recently told Forbes they expected “consequences” for their hacking, which aimed to expose poor security at powerful entities.

“I don’t want to help companies,” Kottmann told the outlet. “The whole hacker thing, in my opinion should be more about trying to improve the world.”

That idealism, however, hasn’t swayed federal prosecutors, who say Kottmann could face decades in prison if they’re convicted in the US.

“Wrapping oneself in an allegedly altruistic motive does not remove the criminal stench from such intrusion, theft, and fraud,” acting US Attorney Tessa M. Gorman said in a statement.

With Post wires

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