U.S. indicts ‘prolific Swiss hacker’ of government and corporate computers

A grand jury in Washington state’s Western District has indicted an alleged Swiss hacker for conspiracy, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. The alleged cybercriminal is a 21-year-old “prolific hacker” Till Kottmann (aka “deletescape” and “tillie crimew”), who calls Lucerne his home. The indictment alleges that Kottmann, along with a network of conspirators, hacked over 100 entities in governmental and corporate sectors. The indictment says that once Kottmann gained access, he and co-conspirators posted a treasure trove of private data on the Internet.

The indictment press release gives the following examples of hacks Kottmann supposedly committed:

In February 2020, KOTTMANN illegally accessed computers belonging to a security device manufacturer located in the Western District of Washington and stole proprietary data. Likewise, in April 2020, KOTTMANN victimized the manufacturer of tactical equipment. In the latter instance, KOTTMANN improperly used the credentials of an employee to access illegally the manufacturer’s source code databases. In August, KOTTMANN hacked a Washington state agency and a U.S. government contractor and stole source code related to various web applications. And, more recently, in January 2021, KOTTMANN similarly conducted cyberattacks on an automobile manufacturer and a financial investment company. KOTTMANN published data stolen through these hacks, among many others, on KOTTMANN’s website and used social media to promote the hacking activity and the theft and release of proprietary information.

Swiss police executed search warrants in mid-March once enough probable cause was given that Kottman was the hacker. Following the evidence found in these searches, the indictment occurred soon after.

The case is being primarily prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Steven Masada and Jehiel Baer with additional aid from Swiss legal experts (in particular Canton of Luzerne Police, the Canton of Luzerne Prosecutor’s Office, and the Swiss Federal Office of Justice). Investigations are being carried out by the Seattle division of the FBI’s Cyber Task Force. Assuming that the maximum sentence is carried out on each separate charge, the time that the Swiss national could face in prison is 27 years.

Featured image: Flickr/Skpy

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