NeoGAFs Kent Brockman
The Nintendo Switch released in 2017 as a complete departure from previous Nintendo consoles, however it initially arrived with a serious exploit that was considered unpatchable. In this episode we cover security on the Nintendo Switch and how Nintendo were able to mitigate the damage to just a small percentage of consoles.
- Nintendo has had a poor history with security on their hardware platforms, with many systems suffering at the hands of software-based exploits.
- Despite this, Nintendo made a significant turnaround with the Nintendo Switch, which initially appeared to be a fairly secure environment.
- The Nintendo Switch was first announced in 2016 as a single paragraph in a Nintendo financial report, and brought a lot of speculation about what the new system would be.
- The main SOC that powers the Nintendo Switch is the Nvidia Tegra X1, which is also used in the Nvidia Shield TV and the Google Pixel C tablet.
- The Tegra X1 was an interesting choice for Nintendo, as it was a departure away from their typical PowerPC-based custom SOCs.
- The Tegra X1 is a more open environment than custom SOCs, which attracted the attention of multiple security researchers.
- The Nintendo Switch contains a dockable hardware as well as detachable joy-cons, effectively bridging the gap between portable and traditional gaming with its hybrid concept.
- The Nintendo Switch features an SD card slot up to two terabytes, as well as 4 gigabytes of LPDDR4 RAM, 32 gigabytes of storage, and a 1280x720p IPS panel at 6.2 inches.
Nintendo Switch: The Rise of SecurityNintendo has had a long history of struggling with security on their hardware platforms. From disk-based backup devices on the SNES to flash cartridges on the Game Boy and GBA, the company has seen its systems suffer from software-based exploits. The Nintendo Switch appeared to be no different, with many considering it to be one of the easiest systems to hack.
In this article, we will discuss the security features of the Nintendo Switch and how Nintendo managed to patch an unpatchable exploit.
The History of Nintendo's Security StrugglesNintendo's struggle with security dates back to the earliest disk-based backup devices on the SNES. Since then, every system the company has released has been exploited, including the Game Boy and GBA, the Nintendo 64, the DS, 3DS, Wii, Wii U, and the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo was woefully unprepared for the different attack vectors hackers would use to break into their hardware, which made their systems vulnerable to hacking.
The Unpatchable ExploitMany considered the Nintendo Switch to be one of the easiest systems to hack, and Nintendo appeared to have learned nothing from the past. However, in what is considered one of the biggest turnarounds in video game history, Nintendo managed to effectively close off only a small percentage of Nintendo Switch systems as hackable systems, leaving the vast majority as unpatchable at least in software.
The Security Features of the Nintendo SwitchThe Nintendo Switch was first unveiled to the world in April 2016, and at the time, its initial announcement wasn't a huge marketing blitz. The system would effectively bridge the gap between portable and traditional gaming with its hybrid concept and this would mark Nintendo's departure away from the power PC based architecture for the very first time.
The Nintendo Switch features a Tegra X1 SOC, the same chip that powers the Nvidia Shield TV and the Google Pixel C tablet. Eurogamer was the first to break the story on July 30th, 2016, and as we now know, the information turned out to be correct. The system also has four gigabytes of LP DDR4 RAM, 32 gigabytes of storage, an SD card slot up to two terabytes, and a 1280x720p IPS panel at 6.2 inches.