Nintendo has reportedly issued the first of its Nintendo Switch console units with at least one of the infamous Nvidia Tegra chip security flaws patched out. Noted game console hacker SciresM let loose the news via Twitter (seen below) and Discord, as spotted by a ResetEra forums user.
Patching these hardware security flaws – particularly the ‘f-g’ exploit – has been a long time coming for Nintendo following their exposure late last year. Before and since then, the homebrew (and, on a related note, piracy) scene exploded on the Switch console, thanks to the flaw.
In fact, homebrewing and hacking on Nintendo Switch has advanced so quickly since the flaws were widely reported that the console has been seen emulating Nintendo GameCube games.
Of course, being a company that’s in the business of making money, Nintendo has already clamped down on piracy and homebrewing on its console, outright banning consoles from playing online found to be doing so with pirated games.
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 to deja vu.Friendly reminder: if you want a hacked switch, don't update. The lower the better. This is still very true.July 10, 2018
This is far from over
Because this particular flaw in the Nvidia Tegra chips occurs at the hardware level, Nintendo’s patch reportedly involved using a system called ‘iPatches’, which applies specific bits of code to the processor’s fuses that fix flaws in hardware operations.
As the ResetEra user points out, there are still nearly 20 million Nintendo Switch units out there that – so long as they haven’t been updated to the 5.x version of the interface – can still be hacked using this flaw. Worse off is that these new units are reportedly shipping with the 4.1 version of the interface, which is still vulnerable to SciresM’s own ‘Déjà-vú’ exploit of the TrustZone hardware security technology found in many ARM-based processors, including the Nvidia Tegra chip inside the Switch.
It’s crystal clear now that Nintendo has been on top of this flaw since its reporting, given that these new units ship with a much older version of the interface. So, know that, while it’s not over yet, the days of homebrewing or hacking Nintendo Switch are numbered … until someone inevitably finds another back door.
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Joe Osborne is the Senior Technology Editor at Insider Inc. His role is to leads the technology coverage team for the Business Insider Shopping team, facilitating expert reviews, comprehensive buying guides, snap deals news and more. Previously, Joe was TechRadar's US computing editor, leading reviews of everything from gaming PCs to internal components and accessories. In his spare time, Joe is a renowned Dungeons and Dragons dungeon master – and arguably the nicest man in tech.