A 21-year-old man has admitted hacking Nintendo servers and leaking details about unreleased products.
Ryan Hernandez, from Palmdale in California, and an associate used a phishing technique to steal the credentials of a Nintendo employee in 2016, according to records.
Phishing refers to obtaining sensitive information such as usernames and passwords by disguising yourself as a legitimate or trustworthy user.
Hernandez, who had the online moniker “RyanRocks”, used the credentials to gain access to, and download, confidential Nintendo files related to its consoles and games.
The stolen information, including pre-release information about the Nintendo Switch console, was leaked to the public.
FBI agents contacted Hernandez and his parents at their home in October 2017 after an investigation into the hack.
Hernandez, who is also known as Ryan West, promised to stop his behaviour and confirmed he understood the consequences of any future hacking.
However, he returned to hacking from at least June 2018 to June 2019.
He hacked into multiple Nintendo servers and stole confidential information about various popular computer games, gaming consoles and developer tools.
Hernandez boasted about his hacking exploits on several online and social media platforms, such as Twitter and Discord, and leaked some of the stolen information to others.
The hacker operated an online chat forum called “Ryan’s Underground Hangout” in which he and others discussed Nintendo products and shared information about possible Nintendo network vulnerabilities.
Hernandez shared some of the confidential information he had stolen on the chat forum.
FBI agents searched Hernandez’s home and seized numerous electronic devices, including computers, hard drives, and circumvention devices used to access pirated video games and software.
They discovered thousands of confidential Nintendo files on the devices.
Hernandez has also admitted possessing hundreds of child sex abuse images.
Forensic analysis of his devices revealed he had used the internet to collect more than one thousand videos and images of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
The images were stored and sorted in a folder directory called “Bad Stuff”.
Hernandez pleaded guilty in a US District Court in Seattle on Friday. He is due to be sentenced on 21 April 2020.
Prosecutors and defence lawyers, under the terms of the plea agreement, will recommend three years in prison.
The judge will decide the sentence which could be up to the statutory maximum of five years in prison for computer fraud and abuse, and 20 years in prison for possession of child pornography.
Hernandez has agreed to pay $259,323 (£199,460) to Nintendo for the remediation costs caused by his hacking.
He will also be required to register as a sex offender following his conviction.
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