Over the past few weeks, many of you including us have been surprised to see older Nintendo Switch games and Nintendo 3DS games getting random software updates. The cause of this was never explicitly stated by Nintendo, and the patch notes for the updated games simply said that “several issues have been fixed to improve the gaming experience.” However, it seems that this was only half the truth.
It now turns out that the games that have been updated in recent weeks, such as Mario Kart 7 on Nintendo 3DS (first update in a decade), Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Animal Crossing: New Horizons have all been affected by security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by playing the game online. The exploits now patched for Switch games could have allowed a full-blown system takeover by a hacker to go unnoticed.
For example, they could access saved payment information or use the built-in cameras and microphones to record both audio and video (Wii U and Nintendo 3DS). According to the Nintendo World Report, the exploit is called “ENLBufferPwn” exploit and is rated 9.8/10 (Critical) in the Common Vulnerability Scoring System.
While the issues for Nintendo on the Nintendo Switch system were easy to fix due to the way updates are delivered, certain Wii U and Nintendo 3DS games remain unpatched, meaning they are still vulnerable to use of the exploit are. The Nintendo 3DS is having problems as some software updates need to be downloaded from the eShop. Both the Wii U eShop and the Nintendo 3DS eShop will close in February.
Here’s a list of games that are known to have had the vulnerability at some point (all Switch and 3DS games listed have received updates that fix the vulnerability so they are no longer affected):
- Mario Kart 7 (fixed in v1.2)
- Mario Kart 8 (still not fixed)
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Fixed in v2.1.0)
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons (fixed in v2.0.6)
- ARMS (fixed in v5.4.1)
- Splatoon (still not fixed)
- Splatoon 2 (fixed in v5.5.1)
- Splatoon 3 (fixed end of 2022, exact version unknown)
- Super Mario Maker 2 (Fixed in v3.0.2)
- Nintendo Switch Sports (fixed end of 2022, exact version unknown)
- Probably more…