Like so much of Cyberpunk 2077, hacking has a few layers to it and doesn’t work quite like you might expect. Also, there’s a puzzle minigame involved.
In this Cyberpunk 2077 guide, we’ll explain how Breach Protocol works — what it does, when you’ll use it, and how to improve your ability with it.
Note: With various patches changing numerous aspects of Cyberpunk 2077 since release, the advice on this page is likely out of date. If you were wondering what’s changed since launch, read our Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty review, which also covers the 2.0 update.
What is Breach Protocol?
To use a lot of the game’s words, Breach Protocol is a specific kind of Quickhack that uploads Daemons onto a network. What does that mean? Well …
When you have a Cyberdeck (as you do by default in Cyberpunk 2077), you can perform Quickhacks. Quickhacks are the things that pop up when you scan a person, robot, or device, and they act on the thing you’re scanning. Quickhacks are things like Overheat or Deactivate, and they just work so long as you have the RAM to pull it off. You’ll buy or craft additional Quickhacks as you progress through the game.
The default Quickhack that every Cyberdeck has, though, is Breach Protocol. This works a little (a lot) differently than the others.
Breach Protocol breaks through a network’s security and uploads Daemons. Daemons are programs that affect everything on the network for a period of time. Which Daemons get uploaded is determined by which sequences you complete successfully (more on this below).
You might see network security referred to as Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics (ICE) in the game — such as with the ICEPick Quickhack Daemon. Networks in Cyberpunk 2077 are more geographical than an actual network of interconnected devices. Networks are made up of all people and devices in a location.
When will you use Breach Protocol?
There are three times when you’ll use Breach Protocol:
- As a Quickhack against an enemy’s network (more on this below).
- To access (read: steal money and components from) an Access Point — those red, wall-mounted intercom-looking things.
- To decode encrypted shards like the Militech shard you pick up early in the game.
How Breach Protocol works
When you start a Breach Protocol, you’ll enter a kind of puzzle minigame.
There are several things going on here.
First, there’s a time limit in the upper left — Breach Time Remaining — but this doesn’t start ticking down until you choose your first character from the Code Matrix, the grid of character pairs below the timer. The Almost In perk under the Intelligence > Breach Protocol Skill will give you more time.
Next, in the center along the top, there’s your Buffer. This is the maximum number of characters you can choose. You don’t have to (and often won’t) choose that many, but the size of your buffer is the max. You’ll start with four Buffer slots. To get more Buffer slots, you’ll need to buy and install a new Cyberdeck from a ripperdoc.
On the right hand side, you’ll see the list of Daemons available to upload. Each Daemon comes with a sequence of characters that you’ll need to slot into your Buffer — in order — to upload it and gain its effect.
When you start selecting characters from the matrix, you have to start in the first row. You can select any character across that top row. The next character you select has to be in the same column as the first character you selected. The third has to be in the same row as the second. The fourth has to be in the same column as the third. That sequence of alternating between row and column keeps repeating from there.
Uploading multiple Daemons (completing multiple sequences)
Since you’ll (probably) have more Buffer slots than characters in the various Daemons’ sequences, you might be able to complete multiple sequences in the same buffer.
Look for characters that multiple sequences share — especially at the beginning and the end. If none of them overlap, look for sequences that are short enough that you can do multiples. If there’s no way to do multiples, make sure you focus on the best and most useful Daemons.
In the example above, the Camera Shutdown Daemon and its sequence of three BDs is possible, but entering it would prevent us from getting the other two — and for the purposes of this example, we’ll say we want the other two.
Looking at ICEPick and Mass Vulnerability, the end of Mass Vulnerability matches the beginning of ICEPick, so our new sequence becomes: 55 E9 55 55 7A, which happens to fit in our five slot Buffer. And there’s a path through the rows and columns that gets us that sequence.