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Hacker Discovers The way to Remotely Pwn a Recreation Boy Utilizing ‘Pokémon Crystal’ After 22 Years


Two boys playing with theGame Boy Color.

Picture: Ghislaine BRAS/Gamma-Rapho by way of Getty Pictures

Screen Shot 2021-02-24 at 3

Hacking. Disinformation. Surveillance. CYBER is Motherboard’s podcast and reporting on the darkish underbelly of the web.

In January of 2001, Nintendo launched an adapter that allowed Recreation Boy Colour house owners to play Pokémon on-line. Now, 22 years later, a hacker has discovered a option to hack into one other participant’s Recreation Boy by exploiting a bug within the recreation. 

Xcellerator, an impartial safety researcher, stated he has at all times been fascinated by “retro tech.”

“There is a feeling that it is doable to know the entire system that you aren’t getting with fashionable computer systems and gadgets. The Recreation Boy has been on my listing for some time to dig into,” he advised Motherboard in an internet chat. 

And so he did. In a weblog put up, Xcellerator defined how he tore down and studied the code behind the Cell Adapter GB, the {hardware} cable that allowed the Recreation Boy to hook up with the web by way of a cell phone, and the Cell System GB, the service that ran the adapter and allowed gamers to sq. up with their characters in Pokémon Crystal

The adapter labored by sending info backwards and forwards between the Recreation Boys of the gamers dealing with one another in Pokémon Crystal. 

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At first, Xcellerator tried a number of approaches that didn’t find yourself working, however he nonetheless documented them intimately in his weblog put up. Lastly, after plenty of tinkering, he discovered a vulnerability he might exploit within the Japanese model of Pokémon Crystal, which he exploited by way of the cellular adapter.

“There is a bug in how Nintendo handles the names of your crew that lets me trick the Recreation Boy into treating one other a part of the message as the subsequent little bit of code to execute,” Xcellerator stated. “Placing all of it collectively, by triggering this bug and injecting a ‘program’ of types into the messages, the Recreation Boy on the opposite finish of the cellphone line is now underneath my management as it can execute the code I smuggled in.”

“The Recreation Boy on the opposite finish of the cellphone line is now underneath my management as it can execute the code I smuggled in.”

In observe, Xcellerator defined that this implies he now has full management of his opponent’s Recreation Boy, and “the sky is the restrict actually,” as he put it. In different phrases, this can be a Distant Code Execution exploit, the cybersecurity lingo for a hack that lets the hacker run no matter code they need on the goal machine or machine. 

Xcellerator stated he might additionally cheat and beat opponents by making the sport soar to the “out of well being” mechanism when a Pokémon faints. 

The Cell Adapter GB adapter additionally got here with a “Cell Coach GB” cartridge, which was used to configure dial-up username and password, and even supplied a browser and electronic mail shopper. Whereas analyzing how the adapter interacts with the sport, Xcellerator came upon that the e-mail performance was used to permit gamers to commerce Pokémons on-line.

“The entire idea of sending a Pokemon commerce in an electronic mail in 2001 is simply wild to me,” he stated.

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