Nintendo Hacker Sentenced to Three Years in Prison

Ryan Hernandez, better known as the hacker "RyanRocks," has been sentenced to three years in prison for crimes "related to his computer hacking scheme and his possession of child pornography found on his digital devices," according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office Western District of Washington. The 21-year-old Palmdale, California native made a name for himself in 2016 following a phishing scheme that was used to steal the credentials of a Nintendo employee. Those credentials were used to download and leak confidential information related to the Nintendo Switch, prior to its release in 2017.This action first put him on the radar of the FBI.

At the time of this incident, Hernandez was a minor, and was let off with a warning to cease further malicious efforts. Despite being warned about the potential consequences, Hernandez continued to hack into Nintendo servers. Through Twitter and Discord, the hacker leaked confidential information online, while bragging about his efforts, making him well known within the leaking community. Additionally, through his “Ryan’s Underground Hangout” chat forum, Hernandez openly discussed vulnerabilities in Nintendo's network, which could have led to similar hacks.

Hernandez's continued efforts once again attracted the attention of the FBI, in this case the Seattle Cyber Task Force; in June 2019, several electronic devices belonging to the hacker were seized from his home. While the devices were found to have thousands of confidential files belonging to Nintendo, forensics agents were also able to discover a folder directory labeled "Bad Stuff" containing more than a thousand sexually explicit images and videos of minors.

Hernandez pleaded guilty to both of the charges at the start of 2020. His three-year sentence, announced by the court yesterday, was the result of a plea agreement between the defense and prosecutors for the state. In addition to the years on his sentence, the hacker will be on seven years of supervised release, and will be required to register as a sex offender, as well. As part of his plea, Hernandez will be forced to pay Nintendo $259,323 in remediation costs. The hacker will serve his sentence at a "Bureau of Prisons facility for inmates with cognitive challenges."

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