In an ironic turn of events, custom firmware SX OS has been found to brick Nintendo Switch devices, in an effort to avoid being pirated itself, Eurogamer reports. The custom firmware allows users to play pirated versions of games, so it would seem the sense of irony is lost on the creators of SX OS, Team Xecutor. The potential to brick Switch consoles was discovered by vulnerability researcher Mike Heskin, who tweeted a public service announcement to any Switch players considering installing the firmware.
PSA: SX OS contains brick code. How do I know this? Take a guess… :/
Anyway, the concept is the same that was used by Gateway for the 3DS: your eMMC will be locked with a specific password. Sadly, in my case, the password was generated from random garbage on the stack. :(
— Mike Heskin (@hexkyz) June 24, 2018
So at the cost of his own Switch, Heskin discovered the brick code in the firmware, made by Team Xecutor. The bricking function is intended to stop others from copying the code used to create the firmware, and releasing their own version.
There is a chance that the brick code could be triggered by normal usage of the firmware, but the “odds are so low that [it] is very unlikely that anyone will be affected by this (unless you’re messing with voltage or time sensitive stuff)” according to Heskin.
After skimming around the subreddit for r/SwitchHacks, it’s pretty clear that installing custom firmware is a complicated and risky affair. Nintendo has ensured that they can easily identify whether that copy of “Splatoon 2” is yours or a copy, as every individual game copy has its own unique identifier.
What this essentially means is that in addition to the firmware risk of a bricked console, pirating games can also result in Nintendo banning the device from connecting online if discovered.
For anyone curious, Heskin was eventually able to unbrick his device, after extensive work. As always, the best way to keep your Switch safe and functional is — surprise, surprise — buying and downloading games the legal way.