Unpatchable Nintendo Switch Exploit Paves Way For Linux, Emulators

25 April, 2018, 09:24 | Author: Sam Montgomery
  • Nintendo Switch Permanent Hardware Hack Released, Related To Full System Exploit

To put that into simpler terms, it sounds like they have discovered a pretty serious exploit in the Switch's Nvidia chip. In an accompanying FAQ, Temkin wrote, "Fusée Gelée isn't ideal, "holy grail" exploit-though in some cases it can be pretty damned close". Likewise, since the hack overrides the boot ROM embedded in the chip, it can not be corrected by a software or firmware update; once the Tegra CPU has left the factory, it'll be vulnerable indefinitely. There is a special plug-in device that makes this easy, and once in there, a payload is sent during the USB check that forces the system to "request up to 65,353 byes per control request", which is way more than the console can handle. That's because the Tegra X1 (210) powering the console contains a bug in the Boot Rom where arbitrary code can be executed while in RCM mode, which was meant to be used to flash Tegra devices and recover bricked devices. To do this without opening the system needs shorting out a particular pin on the right Joy-Con connector (the bit on the side of the system where the Joy-Con clicks into place).

There are various methods for achieving this, with one hardware hacking group tweeting an image of a small plug-in device that can do this easily - although a piece of wire is also enough to do the job. What makes the bug critical and worrisome for millions of Switch users is that it can't be patched through a downloadable update. That is a crucial security measure if the bootROM is secure itself but a huge problem if the bootROM is exploited, as appears to be the case here. "It is suggested that consumers be made aware of the situation so they can move to other devices, where possible". Since this is something that can affect every Nintendo Switch unit now in circulation, Nintendo will likely be looking to clamp down and release a hardware revision soon.

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The reason why this exploit could make things hard for Nintendo is that it is unpatchable as the bootROM can't be modified once Tegra chip leaves the production. Now, a new group named "ReSwitched" seems to have found an "unpatchable" exploit to run arbitrary code on the Switch. As ArsTechnica points out, Nintendo does have some options, one of which is detecting consoles that might have been hacked and locking them from online play. The company then could ban those systems from using the Switch's online functions.

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