Wednesday, June 27, 2018 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Nintendo’s Method for Detecting Online Switch Piracy

SciresM (via Hacker News):

After doing some research earlier today into how the Switch gains authorization to play a given game online, I learned that Nintendo has implemented some very strong anti-piracy measures in this regard -- they can actually perfectly detect whether a digital copy of a game has been legitimately purchased.

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In the gamecard case, Nintendo can detect whether or not the user connecting has data from a Nintendo-authorized gamecard for the correct title. This solves the 3ds-era issue of gamecard header data being shared between games. Additionally, there’s a fair amount of other, unknown (encrypted) data in a certificate being uploaded -- and certificates are also linked to Nintendo Accounts when gold points are redeemed. Sharing of certificates should be fairly detectable, for Nintendo.

In the digital game case, Nintendo actually perfectly prevents online piracy here. Tickets cannot be forged, and Nintendo can verify that the device ID in the ticket matches the device ID for the client cert connecting (banning on a mismatch), as well as that the account ID for the ticket matches the Nintendo Account authorizing to log in. Users who pirate games definitionally cannot have well-signed tickets for their consoles, and thus cannot connect online without getting an immediate ban -- this is exactly how I would have implemented authorization for digital games, if I were them.

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