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With a Nintendo Switch, you can play games that feature beloved characters like Link and Mario along with new releases. Whether you buy one brand new from a game store or save money on a used console, you need to keep them safe to protect your investment. Find out whether a Switch can get a virus or malware and how you can secure yours.
Can a Nintendo Switch Get Malware or Viruses?
Though you might think that your switch is safe from malware, many players are surprised that these consoles are prone to viruses. Any time you connect your Switch to the internet, you leave it susceptible to malware. The Nintendo eShop lets you download new games to your console and start playing right away without waiting for them to ship. Even using that store leaves you vulnerable because you connect to the internet.
Modded consoles are far more vulnerable to malware than standard consoles are. Some owners mod their Switches because they want to do things with them that Nintendo didn’t intend. They also mod their consoles because they want to download emulators and play games they get for free from the internet.
This also increases the risk that you might brick your system. Not only will the Switch not come on, but Nintendo will not cover any repairs you need because you went against your warranty.
As a way to protect players, Nintendo limited the places they could visit with the Switch. You can use the eShop to pick out some new games or head over to YouTube and check out some new videos. The only way you can visit some of the blocked sites is when you mod your system. This can cause viruses to attack your Switch.
Using the Web Browser
A few players found out how to hack the built-in web browser, but this will remove some of the security that Nintendo added to the Switch. If you visit a malicious site, you can pick up malware or a virus. Keep in mind that Switches do not have anti-virus software on them. As of right now, there aren’t any programs designed to remove those threats either.
Can Switch Pro Controllers Transfer Viruses from a PC to Switch?
The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is a new version of the controller that the company released after the console came out. Many players find that it is more comfortable to hold during long gaming sessions and that it responds faster than the standard controllers do. You can also connect this controller to your PC.
How to Connect Your Controller
To connect a Switch Pro Controller to your PC, insert the right type of cable into the controller. You can use a USB-A or a USB-C cable. Once you plug the opposite end of the cable into an open USB port, your PC will recognize the Pro Controller and let you use it. This allows you to control videos you watch on your computer and play some of the popular games on Steam.
If you want to connect the controller without cables, hold the “Sync” button down for a few seconds until you see the indicator lights flash. This button is just above the gamepad. Enter your PC settings and select the “Add Bluetooth Device” button. You can then select “Bluetooth” again and find the controller in the listed options. When you select it, you can use the controller with your PC.
Can You Transfer Viruses?
Many Switch owners headed to Google to ask if they could transfer viruses between their PC and controller. The simple answer is, no, you cannot transfer viruses. You don’t need to worry about damaging your Switch because you want to use your controller with your PC.
Your controller does not have built-in memory or even a hard drive. That is why you need to sync it with your console when you buy a new one or replace the battery. There is no way for a virus to attach itself to your controller, let alone move from your PC to your Switch.
The people who make viruses design them to work on specific operating systems. This is why those that attack Windows systems do not affect Mac users. Your Switch and PC use different operating systems. As of 2022, there are no viruses or types of malware that can affect both systems.
Can Someone Hack My Nintendo Switch?
Hackers and viruses share little in common. When a hacker attacks your PC, they can find videos you don’t want others to see and gain access to the information you keep private.
Several big companies experienced data breaches and security attacks over the years that led to them losing the credit card details and private information of their customers. While Switches were safe for some time, that all changed in 2020.
No one would blame you if you missed the news because it happened during the height of the covid pandemic when people had many other things on their minds. In April of 2020, Nintendo revealed that more than 300,000 customers became victims of hackers. Some claim that the number was significantly higher.
The hack did not affect all users though. Nintendo claimed that it only applied to users who had a Nintendo Network ID. If you had a Wii U or a 3DS and set up an account that you later used on the Switch, you might be one of the affected users.
To keep users safe, Nintendo blocked people from using their old IDs and made them create new accounts through the Nintendo Account system.
What to Do if You’re a Victim
Though Nintendo contacted users to let them know about the hack and what they needed to do, you may not know what to do if you become the victim of a new hacker. If you worry that someone hacked your system, check your history in the eShop.
You want to pay special attention to any purchases you see that you did not make. A hacker can use your card to buy games that they download to other consoles.
You’ll also want to check your recent activity. Nintendo shows your full account history, which includes when and where you signed into your account. You might notice different addresses because you signed in at home and when you were on vacation. Hackers can share your account details with others, which will lead to sign-ins you don’t recognize.
As soon as you notice a problem, change your password and sign out of your account. Anyone who tries to sign in with your old password will get an error message. Log back in and sign out all other accounts. If others were still using your account, this will sign them out and block them from using your account unless they know your new password.
Nintendo worked with Google to create a two-step verification process. Setting it up requires you to add another way to verify your account such as a new email address or password. No one else can use your account unless they can verify the information, which is usually a code sent to you. If someone steals your account and locks you out, you need to contact Nintendo to recover it.
How Can I Make My Switch More Secure?
Frequent checks are the best way to secure your Switch. Try checking your sign-in activity and your transaction history at least once a week. Even if you don’t play your Switch for a few weeks, always check.
You may find that someone spent a lot of your money and you didn’t know it because you didn’t turn on your console. Dispute every purchase you see and sign out all other users as soon as possible.
With Google Authenticator, you can block future hackers from using your account details. As we pointed out above, you can use an email address, but a phone number is usually a better option.
While you don’t always have your computer with you, you typically have your phone nearby. Google will send you a code and ask you to enter it in your account settings. Only someone with access to your phone can bypass this step.
Other Ways to Secure Your Switch
PayPal is a big website that allows you to send and receive money in seconds. Once you link your credit card or bank account, the site will use that payment method when you shop online. Nintendo got complaints from many customers about hackers taking money from their PayPal accounts to buy games and in-game currency.
If you want to remove PayPal from your account, click on the menu in the eShop and click on the red “Unlink” button. This will automatically remove PayPal as your main method of payment. You can also remove a credit card or debit card linked to your account in the same way. Make sure that you also click on the “Change” button to keep the eShop from renewing it later.
Don’t forget to contact your credit card company as well. Let them know that you want to block all purchases through the Nintendo eShop and that you were the victim of a hacker. If you want a safe way to buy games and accessories online, pick up an eShop gift card and add it to your account.
Have Fun with Your Switch
Why worry about potential security threats that keep you from having fun with your favorite games? While you cannot transfer viruses from your PC to your console through your controller, you can pick up viruses or malware in other ways and become the victim of a hacker. Learning how to secure your console ensures that you get years of safe use out of your Switch.