How the Nintendo Switch prevents downgrades by irreparably blowing its own fuses

Downgrade prevention has been a cat-and-mouse game between consumers and companies since the inception of remote updates. The Nintendo Switch adopts a worrisome-strategy of preventing firmware downgrades by permanently modifying your device every time it updates. While this isn’t a new concept (the Xbox 360 was doing it back in 2007), it is part of…

How the Nintendo Switch prevents downgrades by irreparably blowing its own fuses

Downgrade prevention has been a cat-and-mouse sport between patrons and companies for the reason that inception of a ways-off updates. The Nintendo Switch adopts a worrisome-approach of fighting firmware downgrades by completely bettering your instrument every time it updates. While this isn’t a brand contemporary concept (the Xbox 360 used to be doing it again in 2007), it’s miles fragment of a increased effort to quit pause customers from bettering their gadgets to their liking.

The Nintendo Switch hiss an Nvidia Tegra X1 SoC, which comes with a fuse driver. This permits it to programmatically blow fuses — completely bettering the instrument, making it impossible to revert to a previous tell.

Nintendo Switch

How It Works

The boot loader verifies a particular fuse, FUSE_RESERVED_ODM7, to quit downgrading.1 Every design model expects a rather about a assortment of fuses to be blown — if extra than is anticipated, it fails to boot, and if much less, it’ll blow those fuses after which proceed to boot. Blowing a fuse is irreversible— as soon because it’s been build it would never be undone. It’s theoretically that you must perchance presumably presumably deem to physically modify the SoC and change the fuses, but it absolutely’s so prohibitively invasive and expensive that it’s no longer an valid option.

There are 256 bits in the build of ODM_RESERVED fuses, and there are 8 ODM_RESERVED. This permits for 32 fuses, or 32 future FW variations (equipped they burn a fuse on every predominant unlock).


In April 2018, the first severe exploit of the Switch BootROM used to be launched. This will not be any longer a remotely patchable exploit, which approach that every person ~15 million gadgets in the mean time out are vulnerable and will continue to be vulnerable for his or her lifespans. fail0verflow also launched a Linux aspect loader.

2020 Replace

Since this article used to be on the starting place written (in 2018), the capability to avoid the fuse tests possess reach out. By setting your console to RCM mode, it helps you to avoid all these tests ahead of the console has already booted. There are patched and unpatched variations of those Switches, which could perchance presumably be outlined on the very priceless NH Switch Data self-discipline.

What firmware variations are in the mean time hackable?

From the FAQ on NH-Server:

Currently two hardware revisions of the Switch exist. Any Switch sold or manufactured ahead of the center of 2018 has a bootrom trojan horse that enables us to bustle code no matter the firmware model on the Switch. When Nintendo updates the design, on the opposite hand, CFW will from time to time want an change to epic for it. This trojan horse can’t be fastened by Nintendo as soon as the console leaves the factory, unless the console is dispensed in for repairs. This approach that every person present and future firmwares will be in a location to originate CFW thru this exploit on the former hardware revision.

Any console purchased after approximately August 2018 is more likely to be patched. This involves the most up-to-date models on shelves, known as ‘red box’ or ‘Mariko’. Mariko is hardware patched, but could perchance perchance reach on a vulnerable firmware. Currently perchance the most exciting plan to understand in case your Switch is hackable is by looking out for to ship the payload in RCM. Even with this exploit fastened, many Switches on 8.0.1 and beneath will be hackable to a pair extent in the lengthy bustle (watch Can also aloof I change my Firmware? for noteworthy extra detailed data). The serial quantity on the again of the box can presumably inform you which ones consoles are patched and which aren’t. Leer right here for an updated checklist.

Imprint: right here’s a republish of the article I on the starting place wrote on Medium for Hackernoon

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These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
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