Can Nintendo Switch get a virus?


I was fighting my way out of the underworld in the fantastic game Hades when suddenly my Switch froze.

“What the heck!”, I thought.

No matter what I did it just stayed frozen, mocking me.

I went through multiple feelings in quick succession; surprise, frustration, anger then settled on ‘dread’, did my Nintendo Switch have a virus?

Can Nintendo Switch even get a virus? The short answer is no, the Nintendo Switch can’t get a virus. The long answer is maybe and only if you misuse the Nintendo Switch. Tampering with your Nintendo Switch will void the warranty. It could open up a small chance of possibly getting a virus. 

Turns out I just needed to ‘hard rest’ the Nintendo Switch by holding the power button down for 15 seconds, then turn it back on.

But the cogs of my mind were turning on the notion, could the Nintendo switch get a virus and if so how.

I mean, the Nintendo Switch is just a fancy computer and every computer is susceptible to virus’ especially when connected to the internet.

Is it possible to get a Virus on the Nintendo Switch?

For 99.9% of Nintendo Switch users there is no need to worry about getting a virus. 

You are more likely to brick your Nintendo Switch then get a virus if you are modifying the system in any way.

Bricking is the name given when your console, in this case, the Nintendo Switch, becomes completely unresponsive in an unrecoverable way. In other words, Bricking means your console is dead. This is normally the result of tampering and modifying the system. 

This isn’t a turn it off and on again situation, but full non-responsiveness forever!

This unresponsiveness turns your $300 Switch into a ‘brick’ or expansive paperweight. 

While any computer can get virus they have to be build for the operating system specifically.

There are no known viruses for the Nintendo Switch.

But before a virus can do any damage, first it has to get onto the machine.

The Nintendo Switch is virtually a closed ecosystem, and only has access to the internet in a very limited and controlled way. 

For example, you can go online to watch YouTube or onto the eShop. And the Switch can pair with phones under certain conditions such as with setting restrictions in the parental control app.

The Nintendo Switch does not have a reliable way in which a malicious virus could spread. Most people don’t even realize the Switch has a web browser because it is not something that Nintendo wants people to use.

Nintendo also keeps constantly updating the fireware, similar to phones and desktop  devices.

By keeping your Nintendo Switch firmware up to date, Nintendo can quickie address any weaknesses that arise in the OS to better protect your data and your Switch.

As with phones, you should only let your Nintendo Switch connect to trusted online networks, so don’t connect to wifi unless you know and trust the network. 

The only part of the Nintendo Switch that has any type of chance of being exploited is the Switch’s web browser.

The built in web brower is by no means easy to access.

Can Nintendo Switch get a virus from the web browser?

There is a way to bring up Nintendo’s built in web browser. But, you have to really go out of your way to bring it up.

Its not something that most users will accidentally find. You have to follow a specific set of instructions. 

The trick involves changing your ‘primary DNS’  in the settings. DNS stands for ‘Domain Name Server’ each computer has a string of numbers that lets other computers identify them. 

When you type in careergamers.com you are typing in a human-readable link to the website or its IP address.  

If you set your DNS setting manually you can bring up an option to access Google in a web browser as a way of Registering on to a network manually. 

Then in the web address bar, you can just type google and you will be sent to the home page, where you could search just like on your phone or desktop. 

It is not recommended for use. It has not designed to be secure.

It has just enought functionality for its intended purpose. Which is to register to use a private network.

Not to watch youtube!

For that you should use the dedicated app.

After all there are many reasons Nintendo has not made it a app.

Don’t be tempted to use the browser for other daily tasks as your data will be at risk. It would be like using a 10-year old mobile web browser that hasn’t had any meaningful security updates.

You could in theory download a virus if you visited malicious sites. But how much damage they could do is unknown. 

You don’t really want to be the one to find out.

Big tech companies such as Apple and Google spend billions of dollars keeping their web browser safe against the onslaught of malicious viruses and ransomware. 

Just remember Nintendo’s web browser is not built for consumer use so be very careful if you ever do need to use it.

Does the Nintendo Switch have virus protection?

The Nintendo Switch doesn’t really have any virus protection in terms of a piece of software that actively scans for viruses.

As we all know, Nintendo does lots of small updates to the operating system and software. It is so important Nintendo even gates the eShop so you have to be using the latest firmware to open it. 

This does two things, first it stops users trying to scam the eShop to steal games.

Second, it makes sure everybodys Switch is up to date. 

A firmware update can add additional functionality as well as security updates.

Alway keep your firmware up to date.

Recap

Under normal use the Nintendo Switch can not get a virus.

The chances increase if you modify the system in any way. This will also void your warranty.

There is a way to access the hidden web browser on the Nintendo Switch by manually changing your primary DNS in the internet settings.

It is not recommended to use this web browser for anything other than its intended purpose due to lack of security features. 

What’s Next?

Can the Nintendo Switch get a virus from a pro controller that is updated on PC? There are no know viruses for the Nintendo Switch. That being said, you should only update your pro controller from trusted sources.

How to do a ‘hard reset’ on the Nintendo Switch? If your Nintendo Switch freezes and becomes unresponsive you have to perform a hard reset. To do this you will need to hold down the power button for about 15 second until it powers off. Then turn it back on again.

How to perform a factory reset on Nintendo Switch? To perform a factory reset first turn off your Nintendo Switch. Then hold the power button and both the volume plus and minus all at the same time for 5/6 seconds. Let go of the buttons when you see the Nintendo Switch logo. This will bring you into maintenance mode. Select initialise console. This will make your Switch like new by deleting all data. This could be great if you plan on selling your Switch. 

Ian Malsbury

Since being introduced to the Amstrad, Ian has been hooked on gaming. Motivated by a love of worldbuilding and story-driven gaming experiences, Ian now has a place to write about his passion.

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