Nintendo Hacker Jailed

Nintendo Hacker Jailed

A California man who admitted hacking into the computer system of Japanese gaming giant Nintendo and leaking proprietary data has been sentenced to three years in prison.

Palmdale resident Ryan S. Hernandez, now aged 21, was still a minor when he and an associate used a phishing technique to steal the credentials of a Nintendo employee in 2016. 

The credentials were exploited to access and download confidential files relating to the company's games and consoles, which were then leaked to the public. Pre-release information about the anticipated Nintendo Switch console was among the data leaked. 

In 2017, FBI agents contacted Hernandez, also known as Ryan West and by his online moniker "RyanRocks," and his parents regarding the hack. Despite promising agents that he would not engage in any further cyber-criminal activity, Hernandez went on to hack into multiple Nintendo servers and steal confidential information about video games, developer tools, and gaming consoles from at least June 2018 to June 2019. 

The indiscreet hacker boasted about his crimes on Twitter and Discord, the group-chatting platform that was originally built for gamers. He even created an online chat forum, eponymously named "Ryan's Underground Hangout," where he chatted with people about Nintendo products, shared some of the data he had stolen from the company, and highlighted possible vulnerabilities in Nintendo's computer network.

Hernandez' activities did not go unnoticed by the FBI, who searched his home in June 2019 and seized circumvention devices used to access pirated video games and software. Agents also seized numerous computers and hard drives, upon which were discovered thousands of confidential files belonging to Nintendo. 

Forensic analysis of devices belonging to Hernandez revealed that the teen had used the internet to amass a collection of over 1,000 videos and images depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. This cache of child sexual abuse material was stored and sorted in a folder directory labeled “Bad Stuff.”

In January 2020, Hernandez pleaded guilty to computer fraud and abuse and to possession of child pornography and agreed to pay $259,323 in restitution to Nintendo. On December 1, Hernandez, who will now be required to register as a sex offender, was sentenced to three years in prison followed by seven years of supervised release. 

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