Swiss authorities on Monday confirmed they conducted a police raid at the house of Tillie Kottmann, a Swiss software engineer who acknowledged he helped to break into Verkada’s video streaming software last week. In this attack we’ve reported about, hacktivists aimed to raise awareness about mass surveillance.
California-based Verkada calls its cloud-based surveillance service the next generation of workplace security. It allows workplace surveillance over employees.
Swiss Federal Office of Justice said the regional police acted on a request from US authorities and carried out a house search at Tillie Kottmann’s house on Friday last week.
The hacker said online that during the raid, the police seized his electronic devices. The Swiss office declined to provide further comments and said to forward all questions to “the relevant US authority.”
The FBI said it was “aware of the law enforcement activity conducted in Switzerland.” They too did not reveal any more details.
Kottmann is a member of a group of “hacktivists” who hacked into live streams of various companies and institutions like hospitals, schools, factories, and jails in different countries on Monday and Tuesday last week. To gain access, they logged in to internal administrator accounts by using leaked credentials and in this way got access to video streams from connected Verkada’s cameras. The group said their goal was to raise awareness about global mass surveillance.
Verkada later contained the hack by disabling all internal administrator accounts.
Later, Kottmann shared more details on the social media site Mastodon last week. He claimed that the raid wasn’t related to the Verkada hack but was tied to an earlier FBI investigation. The FBI investigated a case in which Kottmann was involved in leaking hacked material to expose security flaws last year. The impacted companies included, among others, US chipmaker Intel.
Hacktivists publicly expose security risks or leak materials in order to promote social changes.