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Nintendo hacker sentenced to 3 years in prison for hack, possession of child porn

He pleaded guilty in January

Nintendo Switch gallery Image: Nintendo
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Ryan Hernandez, the 21-year-old California man who hacked into Nintendo’s internal network and leaked information about the Nintendo Switch before its launch, has been sentenced to three years in prison. Hernandez pleaded guilty in January to federal charges related to the hacking incident and possession of child pornography.

Hernandez’s charges are related to a 2016 phishing attempt wherein he gained access to Nintendo secrets, “including pre-release information about the anticipated Nintendo Switch console,” according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington. FBI investigators originally contacted Hernandez in October 2017 about his hacking attempts, when he was a minor. Hernandez promised them he’d stop hacking.

He didn’t.

Hernandez continued to hack Nintendo servers and leak information that he found there — such as “confidential information about various popular video games, gaming consoles, and developer tools,” according to the news release. FBI agents searched his home in 2019 and discovered thousands of private Nintendo files, along with more than 1,000 pieces of child pornography in a file labeled “Bad Stuff.”

Prosecutors in the case recommended three years, which is what he was sentenced to serve today for the charges related to hacking and possession of child pornography. Following his release from prison, Hernandez will be required to complete seven years of supervised release and to register as a sex offender.

Update: This headline has been updated to include more information about the case.

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