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Nintendo hacker Ryan Hernandez sentenced to three years in prison following guilty plea

Nintendo hacker Ryan Hernandez sentenced to three years in prison following guilty plea


Hernandez leaked information about the Switch before its launch

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Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Ryan Hernandez, the hacker who pled guilty to stealing information about the Nintendo Switch prior to its release, has been sentenced to three years in prison. The sentencing follows a plea agreement originally proposed in January 2020. In addition to prison time, Hernandez will also be required to pay Nintendo $259,323 in retribution for the stolen information.

Hernandez was first investigated by the FBI after he and an associate successfully phished confidential information from a Nintendo employee in 2016. The FBI requested that Hernandez stop all illegal activity in 2017. However, Hernandez continued to dig up confidential information in the following years and the FBI renewed its investigation.

A July 2019 search of Hernandez’s hard drives by the FBI revealed a stash of child pornography and videos of child abuse. Hernandez ultimately pled guilty to possession of the graphic images, and as a result, is now a registered sex offender. The judge overseeing the case recommended that Hernandez be placed in “a Bureau of Prisons facility for inmates with cognitive challenges” and afterwards that he receive a seven year supervised release.

Hernandez’s hack is just one of several that Nintendo has suffered over the last few years. There was a breach by a security researcher in 2018 that leaked thousands of usernames and passwords, but the most notable is the “Gigaleak” of source code and development assets. Though the exact source of that leak isn’t known, its contents were a treasure trove of unreleased Nintendo designs, including an unused Animal Crossing villager and early prototypes of Pokemon Diamond. But those intriguing looks came with a cost: the release of personal information from Nintendo employees, making the leak an ethical quandary for archivists and historians.