Swiss Police Raid Apartment of Verkada Hacker, Seize Devices

Swiss authorities raided the apartment Friday of a hacker who claimed credit for breaching the Silicon Valley security camera company Verkada and gaining access to its customers’ surveillance feeds, according to the hacker and a search warrant seen by Bloomberg News.

Tillie Kottmann said their apartment in Lucerne, Switzerland, was raided and that police seized the hacker’s electronic devices. The warrant was based on an alleged hack that took place last year and not on the recent breach of Verkada.

After being notified of the breach by Bloomberg News, Verkada referred the matter to the FBI. The breach exposed live camera feeds of companies like Tesla Inc., as well as hospitals, jails, and schools.

According to a copy of the search warrant provided to Bloomberg News, the search was conducted as part of a U.S criminal case against Kottmann in the Western District of Washington. The warrant requested documents related to hacking as well as information on cryptocurrency holdings. Kottmann has been accused of unauthorized access to protected computers, identify theft, and fraud.

Kottmann has previously claimed credit for hacking carmaker Nissan Motor Co. and leaking documents from U.S. chipmaker Intel Corp.

The search warrant said that the raid was in connection with an FBI investigation into “the hacking of computer databases and the subsequent theft and distribution of information including source code, confidential documents and internal user data.”

A representative for the Swiss police referred questions to the U.S. Department of Justice, which declined to comment. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney in Western Washington didn’t immediately return an email requesting comment.

Kottmann, 21, said they hacked Verkada because they were inspired by “lots of curiosity, fighting for freedom of information and against intellectual property, a huge dose of anti-capitalism, a hint of anarchism -- and it’s also just too much fun not to do it.”

Kottmann gained access to Verkada using credentials for a “Super Admin” account that allowed access to all of the company’s cameras. Kottmann gained access to Verkada on Monday morning, and the hack was disclosed to Verkada the following day.

In a message to Bloomberg News following the raid, Kottmann said that “the U.S. government will never understand the concept of doing things for other reasons than money and power.” Kottmann said that their parents’ home was also searched by authorities.

Rather than use the access to Verkada’s systems to snoop for weeks or months on its clients, Kottmann contacted a journalist shortly after the breach, and the company cut off the hacker’s access.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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