Autistic British Man Pleads Guilty to Hacking Microsoft and Nintendo

Published: March 29, 2019 8:20 PM /


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A 24 British Man with autism has pled guilty to charges that involve hacking into both Nintendo and Microsoft's servers.

According to The Verge, the suspect was Zammis Clark, known online through several handles including Slipstream. Clark was a security researcher at Malwarebytes at the time of his arrest, which took place on June 2017. In January of 2017, Clark had gained access to a Microsoft server, then uploaded a web shell to remotely access the Microsoft network for at least three weeks. He would continue to upload multiple shells, allowing him to search through Microsoft's network, upload files, and download data. A total of 43,000 files would be stolen by Clark after he began targeting Microsoft's internal Windows flighting systems.

Clark would then share access to the Microsoft servers through an IRC room, allowing other hackers to access the confidential information. One of those who received information, 26-year-old Thomas Hounsell, also pled guilty to similar charges as Clark during a joint arraignment.

Police found the stolen files on Clark’s home computer after a joint investigation involving Microsoft’s cyber team, the FBI, EUROPOL, and the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU).

Clark would leave jail after his initial arrest without any computer restrictions, which allowed him to hack into Nintendo's internal network in March of 2018, using similar software as the Microsoft hack to access Nintendo's game development servers, which store development code for unreleased games.

Clark was able to steal over 2,000 usernames and passwords until Nintendo discovered the breach in May of 2018. Nintendo has estimated that the cost of damages would be roughly $913,000 - $1.8 million dollars.

In total, it is estimated to be $3-$4 million in damages between the two companies.

Prior to his arrest for Microsoft, Clark also admitted to being involved in the breach of security of Vtech Toys in 2015. Despite the multiple hacking attempts, Clark will not face jail time. Due to his autism, as well as issues with face blindness and the work of Clark's parents to care and rehabilitate him, the Judge provided a suspended 15-month sentence from prison, with a conditional Serious Crime Prevention Order, which if breached would automatically send Clark to jail for 5 years.

Hounsell also avoided jail time and was given 100 hours of community service with a suspended sentence.

“I am trusting this will be a lesson from which you will all learn,” stated Judge Alexander Milne at the end of their sentencing.

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