What just happened? There are numerous leakers in the tech industry who reveal products ahead of time, but they do this through legal means, such as company sources. Continually hacking a firm to steal pre-release info will get you into trouble, as one California man who revealed the Nintendo Switch before its launch has found out.
The Department of Justice writes that in 2016, 21-year-old Ryan Hernandez and an associate phished a Nintendo employee, grabbing their company credentials to steal files from the gaming giant. The stolen information, including pre-release information on the Nintendo Switch, was leaked online.
In October 2017, an FBI investigation identified Hernandez, and agents tracked him down to his parents’ California residence. He promised to stop hacking and “confirmed that he understood the consequences if any future hacking.”
But it seems Hernandez went back on his word. From at least June 2018 to June 2019, he hacked into various Nintendo servers to steal more files related to the company’s games and consoles. The DoJ writes that he boasted about his exploits using online platforms, including Twitter and Discord. He also had his own chat forum called “Ryan’s Underground Hangout,” where he chatted with others about the confidential information he had stolen and shared vulnerabilities in Nintendo’s network.
When the FBI raided Hernandez’s home in June 2019, they discovered thousands of confidential Nintendo files. They also found a folder called “Bad Stuff” on a drive, which contained over one thousand videos and images of child pornography.
Hernandez has agreed to pay $259,323 in restitution to Nintendo and will be required to register as a sex offender following his conviction. Under the terms of his plea agreement, prosecutors and defense attorneys recommend three years in prison, but that will be up to a judge to decide. The DoJ points out that the maximum sentence for computer fraud is five years, and twenty years for possession of child pornography.
Hernandez will be sentenced in April 2020.
In other Switch news, Nintendo has confirmed there won't be a Pro version of the console released this year.