US charges Swiss ‘hacktivist’ for data theft, leaks

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The Justice Department has charged a Swiss hacker with computer intrusion and identity theft, just over a week after the hacker took credit for helping to break into the online systems of a US security-camera startup.

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An indictment against 21-year-old Till Kottmann was brought Thursday by a grand jury in the Western District of Washington.

Federal prosecutors said Thursday that Kottmann, of Lucerne, Switzerland, was initially charged in September on a range of allegations dating back to 2019 involving stealing credentials and data and publishing source code and proprietary information from more than 100 entities on the web.

Kottmann had described the most recent hack and leak of camera footage from customers of California security-camera provider Verkada as part of a “hacktivist” cause of exposing the dangers of mass surveillance.

Acting US Attorney Tessa Gorman rejected those motives in a statement Thursday.

“These actions can increase vulnerabilities for everyone from large corporations to individual consumers,” Gorman wrote. “Wrapping oneself in an allegedly altruistic motive does not remove the criminal stench from such intrusion, theft, and fraud.”

Kottmann didn’t immediately return an online request for comment Thursday.

Swiss authorities said they had raided Kottmann’s home in Lucerne late last week at the request of US authorities.

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