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Unpatchable Nintendo Switch Exploit Paves Way for Linux, Emulators (Report)

Stefanie Fogel

Hackers recently discovered two exploits on the Nintendo Switch that allow homebrew code to run on the hybrid console, according to Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry.

The flaws are reportedly hardware-based and found in the Switch’s Nvidia Tegra X1 processor. This means they can’t be patched by Nintendo, leaving millions of the consoles permanently vulnerable. Some people are apparently already using it to run a full, touch-enabled version of Linux. You can check it out in the video below.

Homebrew code is often used to run emulators of classic video game platforms like the SNES, but it can also be used to pirate or modify software. A group called fail0verflow recently released the exploits after contacting Nintendo, Nvidia, and Google (which also uses Tegra processors) about the issue.

“Choosing whether to release an exploit or not is a difficult choice,” they wrote in a blog post. “Given our experiences with past consoles, we’ve been wary of releasing vulnerability details or exploits for fear of them being used primarily for piracy rather than homebrew. That said, the Tegra bootrom bug is so obvious that multiple people have independently discovered it by now; at best, a release by other homebrew teams is inevitable, while at worst, a certain piracy modchip team might make the first move.

“90 days ago, we begun the responsible disclosure process with Google, as Tegra chips are often used in Android devices. The disclosure deadline has now lapsed. The bug will be made public sooner or later, likely sooner, so we might as well release now along with our Linux boot chain and kernel tree, to make it very clear that we do this for fun and homebrew, and nothing else.”

There’s no word yet on what Nintendo will do about the exploits. Nintendo did not immediately respond to Variety’s request for comment.

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