Nintendo piracy

Nintendo is so serious about stopping piracy, it stalked two 3DS hardware hackers.

An internal Nintendo leak has revealed the massive lengths Nintendo employs to stop piracy. The leak specifically reveals documents Nintendo used to plan how it would approach a known 3DS hacker, known as Neimod online. The presentations included several contingency options, depending upon how the hacker responded to Nintendo’s initiated contact and subsequent surveillance.

Nintendo leaker ‘Eclipse’ on Twitter revealed the existence of these documents in December 2020. Aside from Nintendo’s anti-piracy surveillance team activities, the leak also included a look at the Switch software development kit (SDK). Neimod is responsible for cracking the Nintendo 3DS in 2012, which paved the way for 3DS homebrew and piracy.

Nintendo Piracy Leak – Animal Stalking

One of the leaked images from Eclipse appears to be a cliff notes version of how Nintendo planned to approach Neimod in 2013. The leak reveals that the meeting took place on April 15, 2013. According to the notes, the team assembles at 10 am at a local hotel to “discuss and finalize plans.” Those plans included:

  • Review and discussion of Neimod’s activities/schedule
  • Decide on timing of first attempted contact
  • Decide where the second team will be for contact
  • Discuss possible locations to go with Neimod away from home or work
  • Nintendo hired a local investigator to alert when he left work

These details assume that Nintendo is aware of the hacker’s home location, work location, and usual schedule in traveling to and from those locations. After that meeting, the team decided they would approach Neimod after he arrived home from work at around 6:30 PM.

Notes from the leaked internal documents reveal two individuals approached him, with at least one from Nintendo of America’s legal team. They were to engage Neimod in conversation and acknowledge his engineering and programming aptitute.

“Nintendo states its sincere interest in coming to some sort of mutually acceptable agreement with Neimod to discontinue hacking of Nintendo systems/products as opposed to pursuing a criminal referral. The draft complaint may or may not be shown to Neimod at this point (to demonstrate the severity and seriousness of the matter). Depending on his demeanor, reaction, and perceived interest in engaging in discussion,” the leaked document reads.

Nintendo’s Tactics

Nintendo identified Neimod and quickly infiltrated the IRC channel where he discussed his hardware hack exploits with others. They used the information collected there to help build out a flow chart of how they would approach him.

Nintendo piracy

After these internal documents appear online, another Nintendo hacker discloses his time with the ‘Nintendo Ninjas.’ Hector Martin says Nintendo approached him via email, rather than in person. He was eventually hired as a freelance contractor for some pen-testing. For those unfamiliar, penetration testing means discovering any holes in network security.

Martin says he wasn’t allowed to talk about that time until his NDA expired. He doesn’t disclose any project details, but he does delve into the corporate structure of how Nintendo works.

“The people I worked with, including engineers and lawyers from all three main branches of Nintendo were largely very nice people. Communication was formal,” he writes. “Sadly, the project was hampered by corporate policy, politics, and mistrust, as often happens.”

Martin continues saying he no longer believes Nintendo uses such intimidation tactics when talking to hardware pirates anymore. “I’m pretty sure they didn’t do the ninja thing to me, and I hope that’s the case for everyone else onwards,” he wrote on Twitter.

So there you have it. If you’ve ever wondered whether the Nintendo Ninjas of combatting piracy are real – they are.

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