For those of you who don’t know, hacking game systems is an enjoyable past-time for some. They love finding ways of circumventing a console’s security and running their own original programs. The main goal is usually to give consoles the ability to do things they couldn’t originally, like play YouTube videos, stream Netflix, or backup save files.
Pirating games is also popular, although that’s illegal, unethical, and damaging to companies. Please don’t pirate games.
The Switch has gone longer than some without being hacked, although a few consoles still beat it; its direct handheld predecessor, the 3DS, took three entire years to get hacked. Nintendo actually had a contest where anyone that hacked the Switch would get up to $20,000!
The hack is possible because there’s something wrong with the unique Nvidia CPU it runs on, something with the way it starts up. Not only is it incredibly obvious and easy to exploit, it can’t be fixed unless the CPUs are physically switched out. This means that the hack will always be there, unless Nintendo releases a new version of the Switch like it’s been rumored they’re going to.
Usually you wouldn’t see a hack like this released to the public out of fear of piracy, but since it’s so obvious, leading hackers saw no point in keeping it to themselves.
“Choosing whether to release an exploit or not is a difficult choice … [but] the Tegra bootrom bug is so obvious that multiple people have independently discovered it by now,” fail0verflow said, “At best, a release by other homebrew teams is inevitable, while at worst, a certain piracy modchip team might make the first move. 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 not much to do with a hacked Switch yet, other than Linux and full touch screen support as stated above. It also probably won’t be long until you can backup your save games too, which should have been included to begin with but oh well.