The Nintendo Switch has been hacked and we have been thinking for a long time whether we would report on it, but since this has happened by a large number of our competing colleagues and other publications, we decided to go along with it.
The Nintendo Switch hack
Katherine Temkin and the ReSwitched group have found a leak in one of the components contained in the Nintendo Switch. The leak, better known as Fusée Gelée, is a so-called coldboot vulnerability (currently still tethered), which uses the Tegra X1 chip USB recovery mode in the Nintendo Switch, in order to circumvent software security and exclude arbitrary code. able to carry.
This makes all kinds of different things possible, such as loading a Linux operating system. But also a lot of other things.
Outside of ReSwitched, many more teams have been busy making steps in hacking and making information available about the Nintendo Switch. Think of failoverflow, SwitchBrew, BBB (BigBlueBox), Team Xecuter, Team SALT.
All of them have applied different methods to make steps, perhaps also on so-called common ground. But Nintendo’s platforms have always been a focus, just look at the Wii, Wii U, DS and 3DS alone.
Not Nintendo’s fault
In the past, it was sometimes the case that you could designate Nintendo as the party that has dropped the ball when it comes to security of their OS / software. But that is not the case here. SciresM has indicated through various sources that the Horizon OS is more or less successor of the 3DS OS, but that that as a whole has not been Nintendo’s downfall. He even indicates that Nintendo has delivered a very good whole when it comes to security on an OS level.
The problem is not on the Nintendo side of things but on the Nvidia side.
Can not be patched
The vulnerability found by the hackers is at a hardware level. This means that Nintendo can not solve this with a software update. If Nintendo wants to do something about this vulnerability, they have to make an entirely new Nintendo Switch revision.
Do you still know the news about the new Soc earlier? It contains a TegraX chip that would not be susceptible to this hack. These new Nintendo Switches are not yet spotted in the wild and are called “Mariko” Switches.
All Nintendo Switch systems that have been sold so far can therefore use this hack.
The vulnerability can be exploited by creating a sort of short-circuit. This will result in a special recovery mode (RCM) of the TegraX1 from where new software can be started. For example, it is possible to run Linux.
fail0verflow the team behind this hack has also made a 3D printed module with which these pins are put together in one go. They indicate that at the moment not much special software is available for the Nintendo Switch. Linux is one of the few programs that ‘works’ at the moment. Works and working are two different things, enough drivers etc. have to be made suitable for real business to be done and it is far from suitable for an end user.
At this moment there are already a lot of people trying to make different Linux distros suitable. So far we have seen attempts with Arch Linux, Debian and Ubuntu.
All doors open
But it opens doors for all kinds of software on the Nintendo Switch that should not run on it. For example, hackers might create software that allows games for the Nintendo Switch to be downloaded and played illegally, in short piracy.
Fortunately, it is not yet that far. Whether this will happen in the short term is also the question, but the possibility is there in any case.
What is possible for end users at this point?
In short, not too much. There is simply not much that is possible since first the necessary software has to be researched and developed. So for the end users it is certainly not too interesting to try something with it. Try because the process is still reasonably complex for most people.
But since there are already people working on a so-called CFW (custom firmware) for the Nintendo Switch and the point of view is that this would be available in the summer … who knows?
Nintendo has not yet responded to this hack since the recent utterances, but because of the previous disclosure from various parties it probably started with research into correcting and working with a new Soc.
Do you want us to keep reporting on this in the future?
If so, we would like to hear that. Please note; we are not pro-piracy on NintendoReporters, we are pro-freedom; homebrew on a system we are all for.
We will never inform on our medium how you can put exact hacks into operation, how to get to the so-called Nintendo Switch ROMs or the like. In addition, we will always act against sharing such information on our medium swiftly.