US prices Swiss ‘hacktivist’ for information theft and leaks

The Justice Division has charged a Swiss hacker with pc intrusion and id theft, simply over every week after the hacker took credit score for serving to to interrupt into the web programs of a U.S. security-camera startup

An indictment towards 21-year-old Until Kottmann was introduced Thursday by a grand jury within the Seattle-based Western District of Washington.

Federal prosecutors mentioned Thursday that Kottmann, of Lucerne, Switzerland, was initially charged in September. The vary of allegations date again to 2019 and contain stealing credentials and information and publishing supply code and proprietary data from greater than 100 entities, together with corporations and authorities companies.

Kottmann had described the latest hack and leak of digital camera footage from clients of California security-camera supplier Verkada as a part of a “hacktivist” reason for exposing the hazards of mass surveillance.

Appearing U.S. Lawyer Tessa Gorman rejected these motives in an announcement Thursday.

“These actions can improve vulnerabilities for everybody from giant firms to particular person customers,” Gorman wrote. “Wrapping oneself in an allegedly altruistic motive doesn’t take away the prison stench from such intrusion, theft, and fraud.”

Kottmann did not instantly return a web-based request for remark Thursday.

Swiss authorities mentioned they’d raided Kottmann’s dwelling in Lucerne late final week on the request of U.S. authorities. It isn’t clear if U.S. prosecutors intend to extradite Kottmann, who stays in Lucerne and was notified of the pending prices. Prosecutors say the FBI lately seized an internet site area that Kottmann used to publish hacked information on-line.

The indictment ties various hacks to Kottmann over the previous yr, together with one focusing on an unnamed safety machine producer based mostly within the Seattle area and one other affecting a maker of tactical gear.

In a number of instances, prosecutors mentioned Kottmann improperly used legitimate worker credentials to realize entry to supply code databases. The indictment says Kottmann additionally hacked the Washington state Division of Transportation, an car producer and a monetary funding firm.

The indictment does not particularly point out final week’s high-profile hack of Verkada, which drew consideration as a result of it uncovered stay digital camera feeds and archived video footage from faculties, jails, factories, gyms and company places of work.

Kottmann, who makes use of they/them pronouns, instructed The Related Press final week they belonged to a bunch nicknamed APT-69420 Arson Cats, a small collective of “primarily queer hackers, not backed by any nations or capital however as a substitute backed by the need for enjoyable, being homosexual and a greater world.”

Kottmann has beforehand attracted consideration for leaking hacked materials to reveal safety flaws, together with from U.S. chipmaker Intel final yr.

The indictment makes an attempt to tie Kottmann’s efforts at self-promotion, together with designing and promoting clothes associated to hacking and “anti-intellectual-property ideology,” into a part of a broader conspiracy to commit pc fraud.

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