In a departure from typical Hollywood depictions, a real-life hacker didn’t need an elaborate tech setup to leak footage of the highly anticipated game, Grand Theft Auto IV. Instead, Arion Kurtaj, an 18-year-old from hacking collective Lapsus$, managed to pull off the feat using just an Amazon Fire TV stick, a smartphone, and basic peripherals from a UK Travelodge hotel room, according to BBC News reports.
Despite being on bail for a previous alleged cyberattack on NVIDIA, Kurtaj audaciously breached Rockstar Games’ systems. He even announced his “attacker” status in the company’s Slack communication channel.
This hacking adventure took place in a hotel where officials relocated Kurtaj after other hackers exposed his personal details, jeopardizing his safety. The hotel had banned internet access, but Kurtaj ingeniously bypassed this using the Fire TV Stick.
The revelations about Kurtaj’s activities emerged during a trial spanning seven weeks. The jury found him guilty of hacking major firms, including Rockstar, Revolut, and Uber. Another teenage collaborator was also convicted, although he remains on bail. Due to their autism diagnoses, both were deemed unfit for trial in the traditional sense. Thus, the jury’s focus was solely on the actions, not intent.
Often dubbed “digital bandits,” Lapsus$ is suspected to consist mostly of young hackers from Brazil and the UK. Kurtaj and his accomplice are among the seven arrested in the UK. In the span between 2021 and 2022, Lapsus$ is said to have breached giants like Samsung, T-Mobile, and Microsoft. Although ransoms were demanded by the group, the actual profits, if any, remain unclear.