A California man has pled guilty to hacking Nintendo servers to leak information since 2016.
Ryan S. Hernandez – RyanRocks online – worked with several associates to use phishing techniques. They targeted Nintendo employee login credentials for Nintendo servers. The indictment filed in Washington state federal court in December was recently unsealed.
The case says Hernandez used the stolen credentials to access and download “thousands of files.” Those files include proprietary developer tools and information that was not yet made public.
Nintendo first became aware of Hernandez in 2016 when he applied for developer access. Nintendo approved his account – that’s when the trouble began.
“Hernandez then accessed confidential and proprietary information, including material for the Wii U console and Nintendo 3DS system, through Nintendo’s developer sites,” according to court documents.
Those documents don’t reveal actual content of the leaks, but the allegations do line up with an E3 announcements leak. Hernandez shared the information online publicly, but made no effort to conceal his identity. At the time of his exploits, he was still a minor.
RyanRocks is responsible for leaking information about Nintendo products since 2016.
A Discord server called “Ryan’s Underground Hangout” is where the Nintendo hacker team congregated. Discussion about Nintendo server vulnerabilities and current live credentials spread among the participants. Screenshots of chats and information from the Discord channel soon leaked onto Twitter.
The FBI confronted Hernandez about his hacking activity back in 2017. Apparently that visit included a stern warning and a promise from Hernandez to cease his malicious activity. However, the Nintendo hacker continued releasing information in 2018 and 2019.
In June 2019, the FBI raided the Nintendo hacker and obtained hard drives with thousands of Nintendo files.
In addition to the Nintendo files, thousands of sexually explicit images of minors were found. A folder labeled “BAD STUFF” contained the images. Hernandez has agreed to pay $260,000 to Nintendo as part of the plea agreement. He faces up to three years in jail for his role as the Nintendo hacker. His next court date for sentencing is in April.