Nintendo Switch - hacker

UPDATE (6/29/2018) — It was originally said in this story that software cannot be sold under an open-source license. That turns out to not be the case. The contents of this story have thus been updated for accuracy.

The Switch hacking saga continues with new developments from the now infamous group, Team Xecutor. These hackers recently released a payware-program which is used to pirate Nintendo Switch games. That’s bad within itself, but the situation has actually managed to get worse—for Team Xecuter themselves, that is.

A vulnerability researcher analyzed the program and was able to uncover that it includes a line of ‘brick code’. This turned out to be an anti-piracy measure that ends up bricking the Switch if a cracked version of the program is used. Yes, that’s right, the software that’s used for pirating games has it’s own protection to avoid being pirated itself. After this was discovered, Team Xecuter was naturally met with backlash. They’ve since released a statement to The Verge, trying to defend their actions. Take specific note of the underlined sentences:

“We do not ‘brick’ any consoles, ever. We do implement inconveniences to safeguard anti-tampering of our SX OS boot file to remain at a competitive advantage. It would simply be bad business to intentionally harm a user’s console.

Our product has been designed with the greatest possible stability and polish. Whenever someone is running our SX OS they can be assured they are running a safe and well-tested product. We cannot guarantee equal functionality and performance when any changes are made and therefore do not support any unauthorized modifications.

So, Team Xecuter’s reasoning is that they’ve put security measures into their piracy program to stop anyone from tampering with it and the team clearly doesn’t support “any unauthorized modifications”. Well then, how do you think Nintendo feels about a program that’s used for tampering with the Switch hardware by means of unauthorized modifications? If this isn’t hypocrisy at it’s finest, I’m not quite sure what is. But wait, this story gets even better!

On top of Team Xecutor’s absurd statement, the group is also getting broiled over yet another discovery. It turns out that their program has been developed using code from another open-source hacking project. Due to this code being included, Team Xecutor has broken the agreement to the open-source licensing since they did not include any attribution for the original creators.

So, let’s recap. This group has created piracy software which features its own anti-piracy security measures while also using code taken from another open source project. Again, Team Xecutor doesn’t want anyone messing with their product in order for them to have a “competitive advantage”, but yet they used code that belongs to another hacking group anyway. There are just far too many double-standards in this situation.

At this point, there’s been no direct intervention from Nintendo. But, it would be surprising if the company isn’t aware of Team Xecutor’s actions by this point. If action is taken, considering all of the aforementioned factors of this situation it would seem like Nintendo likely has the grounds to completely shut Team Xecutor’s operations. We do at least know that Nintendo is making efforts to thwart pirates in other ways, as another hacker recently discovered the extensive security measures that the Big N has implemented into the Switch’s operating system. For one, the console is programmed to detect pirated copies of software, which then results in the system and the associated Nintendo Account being completely banned from accessing Nintendo’s online servers. With programs like this one from Team Xecutor now out in the wild, Nintendo may very well increase the number of roadblocks in the Switch OS to snuff out as many pirates as possible.


A.K Rahming
Having been introduced to video games at the age of 3 via a Nintendo 64, A.K has grown up in the culture. A fan of simulators and racers, with a soft spot for Nintendo! But, he has a great respect for the entire video game world and enjoys watching it all expand as a whole.


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