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The guy who knew Nintendo’s Switch surprise ahead of time has pled guilty to hacking

The guy who knew Nintendo’s Switch surprise ahead of time has pled guilty to hacking


The man repeatedly hacked Nintendo’s servers

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Someone playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on a Nintendo Switch handheld console.
Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

A California man has pled guilty to hacking Nintendo’s servers to steal confidential files, including taking information about the Nintendo Switch months before it was announced, the US Department of Justice revealed today.

According to the DOJ, Ryan Hernandez, 21, and an associate phished a Nintendo employee in 2016 to get access to and steal confidential information from the company. In October 2017, the FBI contacted Hernandez and his parents to ask him to stop hacking, at which time Hernandez “confirmed that he understood the consequences of any future hacking.”

Hernandez hacked into multiple Nintendo servers

However, from at least June 2018 to June 2019, Hernandez continued to illegally access confidential corporate information, according to the DOJ, and he broke into “multiple Nintendo servers” to steal more confidential information.

Hernandez apparently boasted about his hacking on Twitter, Discord, and his own chat forum called “Ryan’s Underground Hangout.” On that forum, he chatted with others about Nintendo products, including discussing some of the confidential information he had found from hacking, and shared vulnerabilities in Nintendo’s network, according to the DOJ. The FBI raided Hernandez’s home in June 2019 and found “thousands of confidential Nintendo files.”

Hernandez was also charged with possession of child pornography. The DOJ says Hernandez has already agreed to pay $259,323 in restitution costs to Nintendo as part of a plea agreement. Hernandez’s full sentence will be determined by a judge, which the DOJ says could be up to five years in prison for hacking and up to 20 years in prison for possessing child pornography.

You can read the full indictment here:

Case 2:19-cr-00259-JCC by The Verge on Scribd