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By Jamey Keaten and Matt OBrien
The Associated Press 

Swiss police raid over hack on U.S. security-camera company


Last updated 3/17/2021 at 12:18pm

Swiss authorities Monday, March 15, confirmed a police raid at the home of a Swiss hacker who took credit for helping to break into a U.S. security-camera company’s online networks, part of what the hacker cited as an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of mass surveillance.

The Federal Office of Justice said regional police in central Lucerne, acting on a legal assistance request from U.S. authorities, Friday, March 12, carried out a house search involving a group of activist hackers using the name Tillie Kottmann.

The hacker said electronics devices were seized during the raid. The Swiss office declined to specify the location or comment further, deferring all questions to “the relevant U.S. authority.”

The FBI said in a statement Friday it was “aware of the law enforcement activity conducted in Switzerland” but had no further comment.

The group of “hacktivists” said they were able to peer into hospitals, schools, factories, jails and corporate offices for much of Monday and Tuesday March 18-19, after gaining access to the systems of California startup Verkada. They said the action was aimed at raising awareness about mass surveillance.

Verkada later locked them out by disabling all internal administrator accounts that the hackers had accessed using valid credentials found online. The company alerted law enforcement and its customers.

Kottmann, who uses they/them pronouns, said the raid wasn’t specifically about the Verkada hack but was tied to an earlier FBI investigation. Kottmann has previously taken credit for other hacks, including one affecting U.S. chipmaker Intel last year.

“My apartment was raided by local police this morning, 7 a.m. my time, and all my electronic devices have been confiscated on request of the U.S. department of justice,” according to a post from someone using the name Tillie Kottmann on the social media site Mastodon.

Kottmann didn’t immediately return requests for comment.

Verkada, based in San Mateo, has pitched its cloud-based surveillance service as part of the next generation of workplace security. Its software detects when people are in the camera’s view, and a “Person History” feature enables customers to recognize and track individual faces and other attributes, such as clothing color and likely gender. Not all customers use the facial recognition feature.

O’Brien reported from Providence, Rhode Island.

KEYWORDS: Swiss Police, Security-camera Company, Tillie Kottmann, California startup, Verkada, FBI,


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