Nintendo Switch Hacked To Run Debian Linux Via Unpatchable Exploit

The Nintendo Switch has been incredibly popular and is the fastest selling game console in U.S. history. Late last year, word surfaced of a band of hackers working on a homebrew hack that could allow users to put their own content on the Switch, but that hasn’t come to fruition just yet. Another group of hackers has now been able to install and run Debian Linux on the Switch by taking advantage of what the hackers call an unpatchable exploit.


The hackers say that the backdoor that allowed them to install Linux on the Switch can’t be shut with a future firmware update, however, the hackers don’t go into great details on how exactly the hack was pulled off. What we do know from the hackers, going by fail0verflow on Twitter, is that the Switch coldboot exploit is a bootrom bug.

The hackers say that currently released Switches can’t be patched to prevent the hack, and that it also required no modchip to pull off. The odds are, however, that if Nintendo thinks the hack is serious enough (and it probably does) it will make changes in the hardware for future devices to lock the Switch down. The tweet below has a video showing the hack in action with a scroller running on the switch.

The hack last year took advantage of a known NVIDIA backdoor in the Tegra X1 graphics chip Nintendo chose for the Switch. It's not clear at this point what this new hack will mean; there is no indication at this time that fail0verflow has made the exploit public or that the exploit poses a threat to Switch owners.