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An In-Depth Security Evaluation of the Nintendo DSi Gaming Console

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Smart Card Research and Advanced Applications (CARDIS 2023)


The Nintendo DSi is a handheld gaming console released by Nintendo in 2008. In Nintendo’s line-up the DSi served as a successor to the DS and was later succeeded by the 3DS. The security systems of both the DS and 3DS have been fully analyzed and defeated. However, for over 14 years the security systems of the Nintendo DSi remained standing and had not been fully analysed. To that end this work builds on existing research and demonstrates the use of a second-order fault injection attack to extract the ROM bootloaders stored in the custom system-on-chip used by the DSi. We analyse the effect of the induced fault and compare it to theoretical fault models. Additionally, we present a security analysis of the extracted ROM bootloaders and develop a modchip using cheap off-the-shelf components. The modchip allows to jailbreak the console, but more importantly allows to resurrect consoles previously assumed irreparable.

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    The exact date is unclear. Nintendo never announced an official date when the DSi would go out of support, instead changing the console’s status silently. The 3DS was discontinued in 2020.

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We would like to thank Arthur Beckers for his practical help with setting up and conducting the fault injection run against the ARM7 boot ROM.

This work was supported by CyberSecurity Research Flanders with reference number VR20192203 and by the Research Council KU Leuven C1 on Security and Privacy for Cyber-Physical Systems and the Internet of Things with contract number C16/15/058. In addition this work was supported by the European Commission through the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement Belfort ERC Advanced Grant 101020005 695305, through H2020 Twinning SAFEST 952252, through the Horizon Europe research and innovation program under grant agreement HORIZON-CL3-2021-CS-01-02 101070008 ORSHIN.

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Sluys, p., Wouters, L., Gierlichs, B., Verbauwhede, I. (2024). An In-Depth Security Evaluation of the Nintendo DSi Gaming Console. In: Bhasin, S., Roche, T. (eds) Smart Card Research and Advanced Applications. CARDIS 2023. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 14530. Springer, Cham.

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