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First Nintendo Switch Homebrew Spotted in the Wild

Less than two weeks since the device was hacked, Switches have been spotted running unsigned code.


Just before the world celebrated the arrival of 2018, it was revealed the Nintendo’s Switch handheld had been hacked. Using an exploit built into NVIDIA’s Tegra chip, a team in Germany was able to bypass the Switch’s security and begin the process of executing unsigned code.

The NVIDIA Tegra chip contained in the Switch is responsible for the CPU and graphics workloads that power all of the games on Switch. Apparently, the team in Germany used some of NVIDIA’s own documentation on the Tegra to bypass security controls.

Currently, the hack is only known to work on System Firmware 3.0. Users wishing to make use of this exploit for homebrew purposes should avoid upgrading the system software. Predictably, the first order of business for software teams using the hack Switch was to get software emulators up and running. Their progress has been incredibly fast, as can be seen in the video below.

However you feel about users bypassing security and installing unauthorized software on their consoles, the truth is that these homebrew software developers are delivering the goods to an underserved market on Nintendo’s console. The Switch has been out for the better part of a year and still has no real Virtual Console store to acquire classic games. For a console that feels custom made for running legacy titles, the absence of legal classic games to play on the Switch is befuddling. The software teams will find a way to make the security bypass process faster and more user-friendly. It is likely that the Switch will end up as a home to all sorts of homebrew emulators and apps, much like the 2DS and 3DS before it. People want the games, but Nintendo needs to make them available or someone else will.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    January 8, 2018 12:50 PM

    Chris Jarrard posted a new article, First Nintendo Switch Homebrew Spotted in the Wild

    • reply
      January 8, 2018 1:37 PM

      Part of me wonders if the hackers would've worked so hard on it if the virtual console had been available near launch? Also, looks like this is not the hardware hack I've been hearing about that Nintendo won't be able to patch around, and is already limited to a small subset of Switches (those that haven't been upgraded beyond 3.0).

      • reply
        January 8, 2018 1:40 PM

        Rest assured that homebrewers would have worked just as hard whether or not the virtual console was available.

      • reply
        January 8, 2018 1:41 PM

        yes, they still would have. people like Luca Todesco were posting exploits within days of getting one. they are mores interested in it as a mental exercise than anything else

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