Scene hacker Hexkyz reports that Team Xecuter’s recently released Custom Firmware for the Nintendo Switch embeds some code designed to intentionally brick a console, if it detects the user is trying to bypass the license restrictions. (For example by trying to run the CFW on a different console than the license allows).
This should not be too surprising: bricking code has been part of the tactics used by “dongle” teams for a while now, in order to reduce the risks of clones reusing their stuff “as is”, and in order to secure profits.
In theory, such malicious code is only supposed to trigger when the owner of the software attempts to use it outside of the boundaries of its license (e.g. “this code can only be used with our dongle” or “this CFW can only be used on one console”). In practice, we’ve seen our share of such devices bricking their own customers’ consoles. When this happens to you, you have no appeal. Even if you didn’t do anything wrong. (Besides paying for piracy, that is).
Hexkyz reports that from his perspective, it is very unlikely that you’d end up with a brick. His own experience happened because he was heavily tinkering with the console and TX’s device.
It’s also not clear how permanent the brick could be, given that hacks on the Nintendo Switch have access to almost everything on the device. Bricking code could do lots of damage, but also that some recovery tool could potentially help. Hexkyz seems to indicate a recovery would be possible, but difficult.
With that being said, you’ve been warned. Personally, I know enough about software engineering that I would not trust that this bricking code would never trigger “by mistake” for a legit customer of Team Xecuter’s dongle.