Nintendo Fixes Nintendo Switch to Prevent Homebrew and Piracy: Report

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Nintendo Fixes Nintendo Switch to Prevent Homebrew and Piracy: Report

Highlights

  • Nintendo released Switch consoles that are invulnerable to current hacks
  • A new hardware revision called Mariko is in the works
  • We won't be surprised to see more exploits in the future

It appears that the days of Nintendo Switch homebrew may soon be over. According to recent reports, the company has patched out vulnerabilities that allowed users to install homebrew applications and possibly engage in piracy by exploiting the Nintendo Switch's Tegra X1 USB recovery mode to bypass operations that would protect it from such attempts. Console hacker Michael Scires, new Nintendo Switch retail units already have Tegra chips that are protected from the aforementioned security exploit referred to as fusee gelee or "frozen rocket". The vulnerability was discovered by hacker Katherine Temkin and the hacking group ReSwitched. Nintendo and Nvidia were notified of its existence at the time. However, it seems that Nintendo has only partially solved the issue with these fresh consoles.

"Bad News: Reports of new Switches in the wild not being vuln to f-g… probably updated ipatches. Good news: they’re coming with 4.1.0 for now, which is vuln[erable] to deja vu. Friendly reminder: if you want a hacked switch, don’t update. The lower the better. This is still very true," a tweet from Scires reads.

Scires suspects that Nintendo is using the iPatch system on the Switch's Tegra chip to install protective code into the boot ROM. This would cut off access to the USB recovery issue that hackers exploited. He also states that since these Nintendo Switch consoles ship with the older 4.1.0 firmware, they're still vulnerable to an exploit he's not published called deja vu.

And yes, if you have a Nintendo Switch updated to the latest firmware, you've been locked out of using fusee gelee so if you want to use homebrew apps don't update. Though we suspect hackers will try their luck once newer Nintendo Switch hardware hits the market such as a new hardware revision codenamed Mariko. No date has been set for its arrival though these Nintendo Switch shipments Scries tweeted about are not it since they have firmware 4.1.0 while Mariko has support for 5.0.0 onwards.

Previously, reports on the Nintendo Switch subreddit emerged stating that pre-owned Nintendo Switch game cartridges or game cards as they're known have been banned by Nintendo. This is possible because the company has unique keys to identify each Switch game card. If the card is dumped onto the Nintendo Switch's memory (which any custom firmware user can do easily) and that copy is used online, Nintendo will ban it. What this means is, if you buy a used copy of a Nintendo Switch game, you run the risk of having your game being unplayable online and perhaps even your console banned from playing online as well.

"Looks like we've got confirmation that Nintendo is banning gamecart certificates (I guess people aren't taking my advice...). The relevant error for trying to use a gamecard with a banned cert is 0x1F727C -- 2124-4025," tweeted a console hacker Michael Scires (via the Nintendo Switch subreddit). He followed this up with a message on Discord stating that playing a banned game card "will get your console banned quickly".


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Rishi Alwani Rishi writes about video games and tech. Legend has it he bleeds pixels. More
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