You know those movie scenes where a hacker is surrounded by a myriad of high-tech gadgets, feverishly typing away to infiltrate some top-secret database? Well, throw that image out the window! It appears that all you really need to swipe clips from an eagerly-awaited game like Grand Theft Auto VI is an Amazon Fire TV stick, a smartphone, a keyboard, and a mouse. That’s the toolkit Arion Kurtaj, part of the infamous hacking collective Lapsus$, utilized while cooped up in a budget UK hotel room. Oh, and he did this all while already having one foot in hot water, thanks to his alleged hacking of NVIDIA, according to the fine folks at BBC News.
At just 18 years of age, Kurtaj managed to worm his way into the digital vaults of Rockstar Games, the masterminds behind GTA VI. He even had the audacity to brand himself an “attacker” in the company’s Slack channel. The caper’s backdrop? A Travelodge hotel room where officials had stashed him.
Now, you might wonder, why was Kurtaj holed up in a Travelodge? Well, fellow hackers “doxxed” him, exposing detailed personal info about him and his kin, thus making his home a tad unsafe. While at the hotel, he was supposed to be without internet access, but thanks to the clever use of a Fire TV Stick, he surfed around that minor obstacle.
The ins and outs of Kurtaj’s digital escapade unraveled after a seven-week trial, resulting in a guilty verdict for hacking not only Rockstar but also neobank Revolut and the ride-hailing giant, Uber. An unnamed 17-year-old was convicted as well, although he’s still enjoying the fresh air of bail. Interestingly, both of these digital daredevils are autistic, leading psychiatrists to declare them unfit for trial. This caused the jury to only ponder the crimes, leaving the intent part of the equation off the table.
The Lapsus$ crew, branded in court as “digital bandits” (because every story needs a cool nickname), seems to be mainly fueled by teenage rebellion, coming from Brazil and the UK. Kurtaj and his unnamed colleague are two of the seven members nabbed in the UK. Between the years 2021 and 2022, this band of digital outlaws also allegedly cyber-raided Samsung, T-Mobile, and Microsoft. They demanded ransoms, but it’s still a mystery whether their digital plundering actually filled their virtual treasure chests.
So, the next time you think hacking requires some kind of high-tech lair filled with the latest gear, just remember that sometimes all you need is the determination of a teenager, a budget hotel room, and a Fire TV Stick. Who knows what Hollywood will make of this? It’s sure to be less glossy and a lot more Travelodge-y.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about hacking
Who is the hacker that leaked footage of ‘GTA VI’?
Arion Kurtaj, an 18-year-old member of the hacking group Lapsus$, leaked footage of ‘GTA VI’ using an Amazon Fire TV stick, smartphone, keyboard, and mouse from a budget UK Travelodge hotel room.
What tools did the hacker use to leak the footage?
The hacker used an Amazon Fire TV stick, a smartphone, a keyboard, and a mouse to carry out the hacking and leak clips from Grand Theft Auto VI.
Where did the hacking take place?
The hacking took place in a UK Travelodge hotel room where Kurtaj had been placed after being “doxxed” by other hackers, compromising his safety.
Was anyone else involved in the hacking?
Yes, a 17-year-old was also convicted but remains out on bail. Both individuals are part of the hacking group Lapsus$, comprised mostly of teenagers from Brazil and the UK.
What other companies have been hacked by Lapsus$?
Lapsus$ has also allegedly hacked Samsung, T-Mobile, Microsoft, NVIDIA, neobank Revolut, and Uber between 2021 and 2022.
What was the outcome of the trial?
Kurtaj was found guilty of hacking Rockstar, Revolut, and Uber after a seven-week trial. The 17-year-old was also convicted, but unlike Kurtaj, is still out on bail.
How did the hacker bypass the lack of internet access in the hotel?
He used the Fire TV Stick to get around the lack of internet access in the hotel room, allowing him to carry out the illegal stunt.
Why are Lapsus$ referred to as “digital bandits”?
Lapsus$ is called a group of “digital bandits” due to their criminal activity in hacking various companies and demanding ransoms, operating mostly as teenagers from Brazil and the UK.