At the time of the release of the 3DS, Nintendo had to face an experienced hacker who risked revealing information on the console. In order to avoid leaks, the Japanese firm spied on him for days before setting up a plan to prepare a meeting with him.
Already in 2013, hackers were shaking the big tech companies. So much so that some of them are ready to use methods at best questionables to keep their information confidential. At the time of the release of the 3DS, Nintendo thus had to deal with Neimod, a hacker that the firm describes as a “Extremely talented hardware engineer” with “A very great reputation within his community”.
These words were found in internal documents of the firm which have… leaked on the Internet, ironically. In these, we discover that the company has set up a whole spy operation with Neimod as a target, ranging from collecting data on his level of education to intrusions into his privacy. Nintendo was able to know what time the hacker was at home or the places he was going.
Nintendo hatched a plan to blackmail the hacker
For a company that has teamed up with Microsoft and Sony to tackle harassment in video games, these revelations are cynical to say the least. Especially in view of the other elements of the document, which reveal that Nintendo did not stop at close monitoring. Indeed, the company has also devised a whole plan to put pressure on the hacker. Thus, on April 15, 2013, a team contacted him based on the travel information collected, using a technique called “Stick and carrot”.
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Concretely, the stick refers to many offenses performed by the hacker and the carrot to profits that he could get out of a collaboration with Nintendo. “Present a business card”, can we read in the document, which encourages employees to approach the hacker “In a non-aggressive, professional and courteous manner”. To do this, it was recommended to flatter him “By evoking his programming skills” before tackling the thorny subject of piracy. Depending on the reaction of the person concerned, the teams had an adapted plan which you can find in detail below.
The proposition was simple: if the hacker agreed to cooperate with Nintendo and keep his revelations to himself, no complaint would be filed against him. The firm would also have offered him financial compensation in exchange for his discoveries. The two parties have agreed to disclose information under certain conditions, so as to improve the image of the company, she said.
“If the operation is successful, Nintendo’s public image could be bolstered as a modern, tech-protective company, while proving to hackers that it is better to be cooperative rather than aggressive towards the company at home. ‘to come up”, wrote the firm. However, this forecast was not entirely correct, since three Team Xecuter hackers including a Frenchman were arrested by the FBI after a hack by the Swicth.