the US Justice Department announced updates on two separate cases of cyberattacks: a Swiss hacker and a Russian hacker planning to plant malicious software with Tesla.
A Swiss hacker involved in the Verkada cloud-based surveillance firm’s intervention and exposed video footage of his clients’ cameras on Thursday was accused by the U.S. Justice Department (DoJ) of conspiracy, computer fraud and identity theft.
Till Kottmann (aka “deletescape” and “tillie Crimew”), 21, of Lucerne, Switzerland, and their co-conspirators have been accused of hacking dozens of companies and government agencies since 2019 by targeting their “kits “and other source code repositories and publish data owned by more than 100 entities on a website called git [.] rip, according to the indictment.
Kottmann is alleged to have cloned source code and other confidential files containing administrative references and hard-coded access keys, using them to further infiltrate victims’ internal infrastructure and copy additional records and intellectual property. Prosecutors also said the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had seized the domain used to post the threatened data online.
The defendant’s long list of victims includes Nissan, Intel, Mercedes-Benz and many others, including a Verkada breach that occurred earlier this month, thereby securing access to more than 150,000 of the company’s installed cameras in various locations, from Tesla warehouses to gyms. . , psychiatric hospitals and health clinics.
Kottmann, who calls the co-hacker the “Advanced Persistent Threat 69420,” told Bloomberg that the breach “reveals how wide we are and how little care is taken in securing at least the platforms used to make that, in pursuit of mere profit, “as they sought to justify their actions as part of a” struggle for freedom of information and against intellectual property. ”
Then, last Friday, Swiss authorities broke into Kottmann’s apartment and seized the hacker’s electronic devices at the request of US authorities.
“Theft of references and data and posting of source code and confidential and sensitive information on the Web are not voice-protected, but are theft and fraud,” said Acting Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. “These actions can increase vulnerabilities for everyone, from large companies to individual consumers. Wrapping in an alleged extremist motive does not remove the criminal scent from such interference, theft and fraud.”
It is not immediately clear whether U.S. prosecutors plan to extradite Kottmann, who is still fleeing Lucerne.
A Russian national team is pleading guilty to a Tesla hacking conspiracy
In other related news, a Russian citizen pleaded guilty to offering a Tesla employee $ 1 million to plant ransomware at the electric carmaker’s Gigafactory plant in Nevada.
According to court documents, the suspect, Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, 27, traveled to the United States in July on a tourist visa and contacted a Russian-speaking employee in a bid to install malware in the company’s computer network with the aim of destroying the data. and hold him for the ransom.
But the extortion scheme fell apart after the employee concerned alerted the company to the incident, which involved the FBI.
“This was a serious attack,” CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet in August 2020.
Kriuchkov, who previously denied any wrongdoing in September before a federal magistrate judge, pleaded guilty Thursday to a conspiracy count of knowingly causing damage to a protected computer. Kriuchkov is due to be sentenced on 10 May.
“This case highlights our office’s commitment to protecting trade secrets and other confidential information owned by US companies – which is becoming even more important every day as Nevada evolves into a center for technological innovation, ”he said. Acting U.S. Attorney Christopher Chiou confirmed for the District of Nevada. “Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to prioritize preventing cybercriminals from harming American businesses and consumers.”