Hacker that claimed to breach cameras at Tesla charged in the US

19 Mar 2021

Image: © gargantiopa/Stock.adobe.com

Switzerland-based Till Kottmann claimed to be responsible for a cyberattack on security firm Verkada, gaining access to hundreds of cameras.

The hacker that claimed responsibility for breaching security cameras at Tesla and hundreds of other companies has been charged by US authorities.

Department of Justice officials in Washington state indicted 21-year-old Till Kottmann, who is based in Switzerland, for computer intrusion, data and identity theft.

Earlier this month, Kottmann, who is also known online by the aliases ‘deletescape’ and ‘tillie crimew’, claimed to be part of a collective that hacked connected camera maker Verkada.

The company’s network was breached by hackers, giving the culprits access to live and archived CCTV footage from hundreds of premises, allegedly including companies’ offices, police stations and Tesla factories. Nissan and Intel were caught up in the attack too.

In the indictment, authorities claim that Kottmann and accomplices have hacked dozens of companies and government agencies since 2019 to steal and release data online. It claimed Kottmann used stolen access keys, credentials and exploits to gain access to companies’ internal infrastructure.

Last week, Swiss authorities raided the home of Kottmann on foot of search warrants.

“A cyber-criminal could be anywhere in the world. Thanks to our foreign partnerships, international borders won’t provide a haven for their illegal activities,” said Donald Voiret, FBI special agent in charge of the investigation in Seattle where authorities are leading the case.

Kottmann, who uses they/them pronouns, claimed in comments to the media after the Verkada attack was publicised that they targeted the company to highlight the pervasiveness of internet-connected surveillance cameras.

“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.

“These actions can increase vulnerabilities for everyone from large corporations to individual consumers.”

The various charges levelled against Kottmann could result in up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin