A California man is about to face severe penalties for a string of crimes that include breaching a gaming industry giant. Palmdale resident Ryan Hernandez has pleaded guilty to federal charges of both hacking Nintendo systems (the computer fraud and abuse) and possessing child pornography. Hernandez reportedly used phishing to swipe the credentials of a Nintendo worker in 2016 and used that to steal confidential info concerning the console maker and promptly leak that to the public. He even leaked details of the Switch before its March 2017 debut, according to court records. Furthermore, he resumed hacking Nintendo systems in June 2018 despite the FBI catching him and eliciting a promise that he would stop.
The plea includes a recommended sentence of three years in prison, $259,323 in restitution to Nintendo, and registration as a sex offender. Hernandez will face sentencing on April 21st. That deal can be a far cry from the maximum sentences of 5 years for the hacking-related fees and 20 years for child pornography, but it is not trivial. For Nintendo, this also sends a message to would-be data thieves hoping to get a peek at the company’s future.