Did The Grand Theft Auto Hacker Do It With An Amazon Fire Stick While Under Police Custody?

An 18-year-old hacker, Arion Kurtaj, a key member of the international cyber-criminal gang Lapsus$, has been sentenced to an indefinite hospital order after leaking clips of the highly anticipated Grand Theft Auto 6 (GTA 6). The sentencing, delivered at Southwark Crown Court, sheds light on the extent of the gang’s audacious attacks on tech giants, including Uber, Nvidia, and Rockstar Games, which collectively cost the affected companies nearly $10 million.

Kurtaj, who hails from Oxford and is diagnosed with autism, was deemed unfit to stand trial due to the severity of his condition. The court heard that despite being under police protection at a Travelodge hotel, he managed to breach Rockstar Games, the developers behind GTA, using unconventional methods.

While on bail for hacking Nvidia and BT/EE, Kurtaj reportedly continued his cyber activities. Using an Amazon Fire TV Stick, he allegedly mirrored his smartphone’s display to the hotel TV, transforming it into a makeshift monitor. Connecting a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to his smartphone, he exploited the device’s “desktop mode” (DeX) capabilities, essentially turning it into a Linux computer. The Fire TV Stick, in this context, acted as a wireless HDMI cable via Miracast.

Kurtaj’s actions resulted in the theft of 90 clips of the unreleased GTA 6, which he later posted, along with the source code, on a forum under the username “TeaPotUberHacker.” The hack reportedly cost Rockstar Games $5 million to recover from, in addition to thousands of hours of staff time.

In sentencing hearings, Kurtaj’s defense argued that the success of the GTA 6 trailer, released earlier this month and amassing 128 million views on YouTube in just four days, indicated minimal harm caused by the hack. However, the judge emphasized the real victims and harm caused by Kurtaj’s multiple cyberattacks, not only on corporations, but also on individuals.

The trial also saw another Lapsus$ member, a 17-year-old, found guilty. This individual, who worked alongside Kurtaj, was sentenced to an 18-month-long Youth Rehabilitation Order, inclusive of intense supervision and a ban on using VPNs online. The gang, described in court as “digital bandits,” shocked the cybersecurity world with their con-man like tricks and taunting messages on the social network app Telegram.

An observer, challenging the narrative of Kurtaj’s hacking prowess, claimed that the teenager was an avowed unrepentant scammer and questioned the impressive nature of his methods. The observer clarified that Kurtaj likely mirrored his smartphone’s display to the TV using the Fire TV Stick, employing standard features rather than sophisticated hacking techniques.

As the first convictions of Lapsus$ members, the trial raises questions about the extent of the group’s activities, with suggestions that other members remain at large. A US cyber-authorities report highlighted the group’s ability to infiltrate well-defended organizations, emphasizing the ease with which juvenile members could compromise cybersecurity.

The GTA 6 hacker’s sentencing, marked by an indeterminate hospital order, reflects the court’s recognition of Kurtaj’s high risk to the public due to his skills and continued desire to commit cybercrime.

Information for this briefing was found via BBC and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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