Arion Kurtaj, a 17-year-old from the United Kingdom, faced accusations of being part of the Lapsus$ gang, hacking industry giants, including Uber, Rockstar Games, Nvidia, BT, Samsung, and others.
In July 2023, Hackread.com reported that two UK teenagers, 17-year-old Arion Kurtaj and an unnamed 18-year-old hacker, were facing trial for computer misuse, blackmail, and fraud against BT Group Plc and Nvidia.
The duo was accused of stealing sensitive data and demanding ransom money. Now, one of the accused, Kurtaj, has been sentenced, but due to his autism, he has received an indefinite hospital order for leaking clips of Grand Theft Auto 6 (GTA 6), an upcoming game from Rockstar Games.
Kurtaj was identified as a key member of the infamous Lapsus$ cybercrime gang, known for launching devastating cyberattacks against tech giants such as Uber, Nvidia, and Rockstar Games. The gang executed cyberattacks between August 2020 and September 2022, targeting telecoms, computer parts manufacturers, and gaming companies.
According to Rockstar Games’ testimony during the trial, the hack orchestrated by Lapsus$ cost them $5 million to recover from, contributing to the overall financial impact of nearly $10 million on the targeted companies.
Reportedly, Kurtaj had been violent while in custody, with dozens of reports of injury or property damage. Doctors deemed him unfit to stand trial due to his severe autism, so the jury at a Southwark crown court was asked to determine whether he committed the alleged acts without criminal intent.
Considering Kurtaj’s skills and inclination to commit cybercrime, the judge deemed him a high risk to public safety. Consequently, he will be held at a secure hospital for life unless doctors determine he is no longer a danger. A mental health assessment was conducted as part of the sentencing process. Shockingly, it was revealed during the hearing that Kurtaj continued hacking while on bail, targeting major entities like Nvidia and BT/EE even under police protection at a Travelodge hotel.
Reportedly, he breached Rockstar, the company behind GTA, using an Amazon Firestick, hotel TV, and mobile phone to hack its internal Slack messaging system. He stole 90 unreleased clips and threatened to release the source code if Rockstar didn’t contact him on Telegram within 24 hours. Kurtaj posted the clips and source code on a forum under the username TeaPotUberHacker. He was rearrested and detained until his trial.
Contrary to reports, cybersecurity researcher Robert Graham asserts that claims of Kurtaj using just an Amazon Firestick to breach the gaming giant are inaccurate and exaggerated. Graham contends that the hacker employed his phone for this purpose.
“Specifically, he connected his phone to the TV and its Bluetooth keyboard, through the FireTV stick. This made things more convenient when accessing the Internet from his phone, but was by no means such things were essential,” tweeted Graham.
Cybersecurity expert here: no.— Robᵉʳᵗ Graham 𝕏 (@ErrataRob) December 22, 2023
The stories of teenage hacking are sensationalized.
As far as we can tell, he didn't hack into the company using a FireTV stick. He accessed the company using his phone.
Specifically, he connected his phone to the TV and its bluetooth keyboard,… https://t.co/N2a5w8U369
In a separate development, a 17-year-old member of the Lapsus$ gang was found guilty of two counts of fraud, two Computer Misuse Act offences, and one count of blackmail by Guildford Crown Court in Surrey. He was sentenced to a youth rehabilitation order, which includes 18 months of supervision, six months of rehabilitation, and three months of intensive supervision and surveillance.
The cases highlight the dangers young people can face online and the serious consequences it can have on their future, stated DCS Amanda Horsburgh, from the City of London police.
“Unfortunately, the digital world can also be tempting to young people for the wrong reasons,” Horsburgh added.
Hackread.com has followed UK law enforcement’s crackdown against the Lapsu$ gang members and those behind high-profile security breaches. In September 2022, Hackread reported the arrest of a 17-year-old teen from Oxfordshire by the City of London Police for their suspected link with Uber and Rockstar Games’ breaches.
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