The Nintendo Switch Lite has been hacked, and the hackers have demonstrated running homebrew code on the platform. For those not in the know, homebrew code is simply a term for unsigned or unverified programs running on a given platform. Homebrew software is often not malicious though. In most cases, gamers just want to run web browsers, emulators or cheating devices for singleplayer games. All of these apps and more rely on some degree of custom code that bypasses protections against unsigned code on the console. Hardware hacking was born out of this need to do more with the console you buy.
It only took a few weeks for the original Switch security setup to be defeated. The Switch Lite variant released on September 20, 2019, and even though it lacked critical features, many fans snapped them up. It appears that in addition to shedding various features, Nintendo also beefed up software protections a bit by patching out previous hardware and software exploits that crackers and hackers had used to gain access to the root of the device.
In response to this, Nintendo will likely attempt to issue a patch that fixes the underlying exploit or makes loading and running unsigned apps harder in some way. This is why the team behind the announcement has decided to withhold the details of their exploit until sometime in 2020. The reason for the delay is unknown, but it’s reasonable to assume that they’re polishing the code base up for public consumption, as well as taking time to try and find a backup route should the initial vulnerability be patched.
Previously, vulnerabilities in the boot ROM of the original Switch allowed crackers and hackers unfettered access to the base code of the console. This allowed them to further tinker with the consoles, developing applications that could bypass copy protection, software signing and other avenues of security.
The team behind this newest exploit, Team-Xecuter, has been around since 2001. The group has gone through a lot of talent over the years, but their reputation has been consistently solid in the hardware hacking and modding scenes. The team cut their teeth on the OG Xbox, issuing vulnerabilities and tools to allow a new generation of hardware modders to create modchips, hacks and other goodies on the console.
So whether we see more piracy or cheating on Switch Lite consoles is impossible to know, but you can definitely bet Nintendo and the various developers for games on the portable platform will be working hard to patch this.