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Microsoft's Xbox 360 was considered hacker-proof, but its firmware has now been opened for modders

From bad AC adapters to overheating GPU cores, the Xbox 360 has given Microsoft some bad press over the last several months.

A hacker who calls himself  "TheSpecialist" stated that he has installed his own custom firmware into the Xbox 360. He claims that with the custom firmware, he is able to create directly bootable backups of original DVD games. The firmware, claims TheSpecialist, circumvents the Xbox 360’s content checking by ignoring the required disc signatures that are present on retail games. However, TheSpecialist states that he will not release his firmware due to obvious piracy concerns.

TheSpecialist tells us that Microsoft did not sign the firmware that allows him to gain full control of the console’s internal hard drive. On Microsoft’s original Xbox, casual modding is not as prevalent as it was before, thanks to clever thinking on Microsoft’s part using its Xbox Live! online service. The company uses its online service and routinely sends updates to the Xbox, which detects if non-original hardware or software is in use. Many are expecting Microsoft to perform similar updates on its Xbox 360 console.

TheSpecialist claims:

I doubt you’ll see some kind of other hack soon, that lets you boot unsigned code for example. [Microsoft] did a very good job on the [Xbox 360] itself this time. However, they made a big mistake by forgetting about the firmware. They even didn’t remove the debug routines from the FW [firmware], quite amazing.

The 360 has a little bit more advanced protection in its FW than the original Xbox, but still, they [forgot] about the debug routines, that were very helpful to us, and most importantly: not signing the firmware.


So far there have not been any official mods released for the Xbox 360.



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Sega
By MrSeGaGa on 3/17/2006 5:44:48 AM , Rating: 1
SEGA FANS UNITE please any sega fan that wants to see there favorite company back in the console race check out this site
www.petitionspot.com/petitions/newsegaconsole please sign the petiton and spread the word to your friends. (sorry this is not on the topic)




RE: Sega
By QueBert on 3/17/2006 11:03:46 AM , Rating: 2
off topic or not, that petition is wonderful. I am pissed to this day I can't go to Best Buy and pick up new Dreamcast games. Technology wise, it was close to PS2 specs. The games rocks, it kills me it died so soon. In a fair world Dreamcast games would still be made by the plenty.


RE: Sega
By shaw on 3/17/2006 2:55:56 PM , Rating: 2
Off topic and unfortunately Sega is too stupid to be in the console race anymore.


RE: Sega
By powerincarnate on 3/21/2006 1:22:47 PM , Rating: 3
This is as well Of topic

How could Sega Survive.

1. It had the Weakest System: PS2 could survive because of it's 3rd party support but Sega doesn't have that type of support so being the weakest is even more of a problem for them than it is for the PS2 currently.

2. Online: I think it was only dial up, but I could be wrong. If it was, Thats an even bigger limitation than a non centralized system the PS2 uses.

3. Madden: No good Sports games equal never competing. Lets be series here, to win the System wars, you need Sports games, Final Fantasy, and a few 1st and 3rd party IPs in other genres like a Metal Gear solid, GTA, God of War.

4. Little 3rd party support: This ties to being the weakest but it also ties into Sega's history of abandoning their system at the slightest nudge from a competitor. Games that are released for the PC or XBOX in mind would have to be downscaled a long way to the dreamcast. chances are, they'll simply no release it for the DC instead of suffering such large changes to your game. Ex. Some PC and XBOX games simply weren't made for the PC or in the case of games like Max Payne and Splinter Cell, the games simply were ugly or near unplayable on the PS2.

5. First Party Games: again this ties to the Madden section but seriously, Sonic as a franchise is Useless now, it didn't age with the times like a Zelda or Mario has for Nintendo. With the exception of Virtua Fighter 4 and Evo, Sega just don't have much in the form of great 1st party games anymore. They certanly have it in their library (Streets of Rage, Vectorman, Shinobi (ie. could have been great like Ninja Gaiden)) but sega either didn't update them for 3D or did a poor job like in the case of Shinobi.

6. Simply being a 4th Console: Few people will own 4 consoles, so when it comes to which one you'll buy it most likely will come down to this. Owners of 3 consoles will chose Microsoft for Graphics and great online, PS2 for great game library, Gamecube for Old school fun with old school characters updated for New School systems. yeah some will disagree but chances are, this will be the three system chosen. Those picking up 2 systems will depending on their age and taste, will chose a PS2 for the library, and either an XBOX for graphics and online or Gamecube for old school fun. I think it's been proven that the edge go to the PS2 + XBOX combo than PS2 and Gamcube or even further the Gamecube and XBOX combo. Finally, Owners of one system will be base on taste, age and all that, but it's been proven that when it comes to competing against the PS2, people will definitely pick ps2 over dreamcast. Graphic Whores and Online freaks will definitely go towards the Box, and old school fun with new school graphics will flock to the cube. The leftovers will go to the dreamcast but you can't sustain a system when you are CLEARLY the fourth choice. That is not even including PSP and the highly suscessful DS and Gameboy advance which I know for sure will also beat the Dreamcast in sales as well. 7th place is definitely NOT a lucky number.

Sega is and Was in Fact Stupid. They made bad upgrade and ad on decisions for the genesis, They rushed the released of the Saturn, They failed to update classic on the genesis for the Saturn. They quickly destroyed the Saturn which left a lot of people without a system, They rushed the released of the Dreamcast, They Failed to provide any resistance towards piracy for the dreamcast, They failed to provide any resistance against SONY in both generations, They failed to entice EA to release games on the Dreamcast, especially Madden, And they failed to again update classic games for the Dreamcast.

Let it go guys, Let it go, Sega sucks and therefore by process of association, the Dreamcast as well suck. I can't wait for Virtua Fighter 5 though, as when it comes to fighting games, Sega is King, so I'm at least not totally against Sega. It's funny how things change, Just 15 years ago, I use to argue against Classmates why the Genesis was better than the SNES. Shinobi, Streets of Rage, Madden, x-men 2 the clone wars, even things like Herzog Zwi help push my arguments. But as 1994, 1995, 1996 came around, it became clearer and clearer than I couldn't sustain those coments.


RE: Sega
By powerincarnate on 3/21/2006 1:26:26 PM , Rating: 2
I meant Let's be serious here for the 3rd point.

Later I said that some PC and XBOX games were simply not made for the PC but I meant not made for the PS2. I'm sure there were more mistakes but hopefully you'll understand the giss of the statement.

PS. isn't there an edid feature here???


RE: Sega
By powerincarnate on 3/21/2006 1:27:23 PM , Rating: 2
WOW, even on my edit, I messed up by saying edid.


Yeah right!
By tenguman on 3/16/2006 6:12:53 PM , Rating: 1
I've hacked the PS3 already but I won't release how I did it because I really didn't do it and I'm just trying to get attention.




RE: Yeah right!
By tenguman on 3/16/2006 6:15:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Microsoft engineer Chris Satchell has gone on record with the BBC stating that the XBox 360 will contain security technology that hackers have yet to see. This is in an effort to keep users from viewing and downloading illegal content onto their consoles.

"There are going to be levels of security in this box that the hacker community has never seen before."

We've taken security to the hardware level and built it in from the ground up," he is quoted as saying.

He did however, add that "There are some really bright people in the world with some really expensive hardware. I'm sure sooner or later someone will work out how to circumvent security. But the way we have done the design doesn't mean that it will work on somebody else's machine."


Microsoft NEVER said the 360 was hacker proof.


RE: Yeah right!
By The Cheeba on 3/16/2006 6:17:45 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Yeah right!
By albundee on 3/16/2006 6:17:57 PM , Rating: 2
never said it, but sure was thinking about it:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4218670.stm


RE: Yeah right!
By Krutch on 3/17/2006 7:20:32 AM , Rating: 2
I didn't read in that article where Microsoft said that the Xbox 360 was hack proof. Only that they implemented security features at the silicon level. Matter of fact a qoute from teh article says:

quote:
"I'm sure sooner or later someone will work out how to circumvent security. But the way we have done the design doesn't mean that it will work on somebody else's machine."


I don't think MS is arrogant enough to actually claim something is hackproof.



RE: Yeah right!
By timmiser on 3/17/2006 6:39:54 PM , Rating: 2
Good post! I was thinking the same thing!


Sounds like the info will never be released
By Staples on 3/16/2006 9:15:37 PM , Rating: 1
I am not sure what his other hack was but if you read his post, he says that he is against releasing the info in part because it is unethical. I am glad that he calls games that would be played pirated. I hate these guys who call them backups. Sure, they are backups maybe 1% of the time and 99% of the time, they are games that the users never bought.




RE: Sounds like the info will never be released
By Araemo on 3/17/2006 9:08:07 AM , Rating: 3
While you're right, 99% of the time people using modified firmwares just download the games from the intarwebs after that..

If I bought an xbox or xbox360, knowing that it is technically feasible to stick a bigger HD in the machine and copy all my disks down to the HD, so that I can take my xbox to a friend's house to play games without taking a huge stack of games with me.. I would want to.

I have seen how convenient that is.. at the LAN parties I go to, we usually have an xbox, a ps2, and a gamecube all hooked up as well.. the xbox never has to shuffle disks or worry about having someone lose/scratch/break the game disks.. the rest you end up with people taking a disk out and putting it in a different case.. etc. ;P

However, I'm unlikely to buy any xbox/xbox360, so it's a moot point.. but if MS offered the ability to do that as part of the firmware itself(It could check for a legal disk before making the backup, or something like that.. maybe even 'require' the original disk now and then to prove you still have it.), I'd probably settle for that.


RE: Sounds like the info will never be released
By Zoomer on 3/17/2006 7:55:48 PM , Rating: 2
It is also possible on the ps2 with the ethernet adapter and any hard disk. :)


By peternelson on 3/22/2006 9:48:08 PM , Rating: 2
Been there, done that.

Original (FAT) PS2 runs linux from hard drive connected in network adaptor.

Just need to use exploit installer using old PS1 game and a spare memory cartridge. Send progs to execute over network or usb cable.

PS2 is owned. But none of my PS2 games are pirated.


Not suprised!
By Mitul89 on 3/16/2006 6:06:48 PM , Rating: 2
This is not shocking or surprising, as we know it, anything that is programmed/developed by Microsoft is easy to hack. Its funny that MS actually said that XBox369 is Hack Proof... Which just makes me laugh..




RE: Not suprised!
By stmok on 3/16/06, Rating: -1
RE: Not suprised!
By chud67bc on 3/16/2006 7:50:42 PM , Rating: 3
It's not just MS, you name me a system that cannot be hacked by someone with too much free time on their hands.
Can you say PSP? I guess Sony is crap using your logic.
Apple has no security issues? Think not.
US Gov. sercurity issues? ha
It's just the "in" thing to blame MS.
Funny, nobody in this world seems to blame the actual hackers, or virus writers and say it's MS fault. Wake up.


Why?
By Gleep on 3/16/2006 11:28:36 PM , Rating: 2
Why are articles like this posted? It's yet another article based on a random hacker's baseless claim. Wasn't the last article "So and So has completely hacked the XBox"?

If all it takes to get a DailyTech article is just saying you've done something when there is zero proof then why not post about the "Phantom" game system? Last night I visited Mars, of course I won't tell you how to travel hundreds of millions of miles in one night cause it would be unethical; you'll just have to take my word about the Mars trip.




RE: Why?
By Decaydence on 3/17/2006 1:58:32 AM , Rating: 2
You are absolutely correct. The last post about the xbox 1's dvd drive firmware being hacked to allow backups to be played without a mod chip made me want to vomit. This is a very similar case. Why would someone not release a hack that does the same thing that all other hacks do (referring to the xbox1 dvd drive firmware hack) on some ethical basis? We all know a mod chip will be released for the xbox 360 eventually anyway.

By the way, I discovered the cure for cancer yesterday, I'm just not going to publish my findings or offer any proof whatsoever. Maybe CNN will publish an article about me now.


DVD on Heat sink.
By willow01 on 3/19/2006 6:17:54 PM , Rating: 2
Don't know about you guys but I don't think that I would leave a DVD on the heat sink.




RE: DVD on Heat sink.
By willow01 on 3/19/2006 6:18:35 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry meant to post in the video news.


Chest Thumping
By Scabies on 3/21/2006 10:07:23 PM , Rating: 2
Possible to hack the 360 in any way, I would say yes, it will just take time, hardware, and someone's perserverance. Keeping everyone from having 360 hax would be fairly simple, during manufacturing they could write some variable slightly different on each system, which could instantly kill a "haxall" black-market release. This would make it so each person would have to hack their own system, or someone would have to make a 'smart' modchip that would look for the variable and keep it intact. Modchips, apparently, are still a ways off.
Now, as for the "no one in the hacker community has seen this technology before.." Please. A pathetic stab at self-declared innovation. I could make a padlock out of swiss cheese and call it a unique security measure that no one has seen before. Besides, wouldnt the third party software developers have to have some understanding of the hardware to utilize it? The original contacts now utilized for modchips were made specifically for third party developers, if I remember correctly. Surely the description, location, and elimination of the little internal hacker-firewall thing that MS raves about will be either found or leaked, once again all in a matter of time.
And, to TheSpecialist, congradulations if you arent full of s**t. Otherwise, I have to agree with the others here. People at A&M University were able to generate "tabletop fusion" a few years back, but when the cameras and journalists showed up, they said they didnt write it down, and could reproduce the experiment. You decipher my message.
(d00dxxorz, som3on3 mail3d m3 th3 r3cipi3 for th3 fount@in of y00th. it worxx I sw3arz)




RE: Chest Thumping
By Scabies on 3/21/2006 10:09:33 PM , Rating: 2
dangit... *edit*
the headers I was talking about were in the original xbox

and.. A&M could NOT reproduce the experiment


Skeptics anyone?
By BladeVenom on 3/16/06, Rating: 0
RE: Skeptics anyone?
By Knish on 3/16/2006 6:12:30 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know much about him specifically, but he seems to have a reputation in the xbox scene:

http://www.xboxhacker.net/index.php?option=com_smf...


Slacker
By TomZ on 3/16/2006 9:44:57 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know what that slacker is doing, but I already have Windows XP and Mac OSX running on my XBOX 360. I've had that running for a couple of months now.

Seriously though, the nice thing about making claims like this is that you can't come out and prove it, because you can get in trouble for violating the DCMA. How convenient!

Any how is this a news item if it can't be verified?




Goodbye X360, Hello AACS
By Sahrin on 3/16/2006 11:02:41 PM , Rating: 2
If M$, the foremost software company in the world, can't keep a proprietary single-design internally developed and restricted content access machine and its media format secure, then how the holy heck does Hollywood, Sony, Toshiba, et al expect to secure an essentially openly licensed format and hardware design? There is simply no way that AACS will succeed to closing security holes. Not a pro-piracy rant, just. I can't believe how much effort goes into the futility of it. On the one hand, I understand wanting to keep easy distribution of software and media in check, but on the other hand, what a colossal waste of money and time to catch something like 1-5% of all buyers (in video and software, admittedly more in music).




Hear-Say
By tjr508 on 3/17/2006 12:02:35 AM , Rating: 2
Once again we have numerous people bashing MS when there is no evidence to suport the reported claims. Nobody learned a lesson form the foil news.




Old News
By pdnellius on 3/17/2006 12:48:31 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry guys, but this is kinda old news. It's from February, look at xbox-scene.com for more info (you'll probably have to look at archives).




they said it!
By Mitul89 on 3/17/2006 10:40:45 AM , Rating: 2
Microsoft definintely said that Xbox360 was "Hack Proof." I dont have that article because it was last year. But they said it during E3.




By Blackraven on 3/22/2006 9:58:47 AM , Rating: 2
Just thinking.....

Since, the 220V Asian and 110V Japanese versions were produced & released at a later time, does this mean that the problems encountered during the US/Canada/Mexico release of the X360 (such as overheating, fu**ed up AC power adapters, etc.) are not prevalent anymore?

Was M$ able to fix those problems before the 220V Asia and 110V Japan units were released?

Was asking this because I plan to get one for early next year (along with a black PS3 and a Nintendo Revolution) and I wanted to make sure that any bugs/errors/problems were fixed before I decide on a purchase next year.




Just a coincidence? I think not!
By SunAngel on 3/16/2006 8:22:11 PM , Rating: 1
Is it just a coincidence Apple get hacked with a special(ist) firmware for Windows XP and XBox 360 get hacked by a specialist? Go figure. I wonder if Billy Gates would hack into my school mainframe and correct my computer science grades so I can get a job with him.




You think that's cool?
By AnaxagorasZeres on 3/16/06, Rating: 0
"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA











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