Security researchers have found a way to hack the Nintendo Switch so it can run software Nintendo normally doesn’t allow. The hack can’t be blocked with a software update from Nintendo, according to the researchers.
Two different security researchers found the same vulnerability in the Tegra X1 chip that powers the Nintendo Switch. Both fail0verflow and Kate Temkin (PDF) have written how a bug in the chip can be exploited. They found that it’s possible to exploit the USB recovery mode of the X1 which makes it possible to bypass all signature checks of the Switch.
This way also software that isn’t signed by Nintendo can be loaded on the Switch. It also paves the way for users to play pirated games on the console. It’s reportedly impossible for Nintendo to counter the hack, only a new hardware revision could stop it. Besides the fact that the Japanese console developer can’t stop users from loading any kind of software on the device, the researchers state that it’s also impossible to detect a hacked device with existing software.
Security researcher fail0verflow previously already demonstrated how Linux works on the Switch. He showed a working version of Twitter, with a small virtual keyboard, that he used to send Tweets.
He also warns for possible damage that the hack can cause, “it’s stupidly easy to blow up embedded platforms like this with bad software (e.g. all voltages are software-controlled). We already caused temporary damage to one LCD panel with bad power sequencing code.”