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Hackers can easily steal credit card info, other data from used Xbox consoles [update]

Zach Epstein
March 30th, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Using nothing more than a few common tools, hackers can reportedly recover credit card numbers and other personal information from used Xbox 360 consoles even after they have been restored to factory settings. Researchers at Drexel University say they have successfully recovered sensitive personal data from a used Xbox console, and they claim Microsoft is doing a disservice to users by not taking precautions to secure their data. “Microsoft does a great job of protecting their proprietary information,” researcher Ashley Podhradsky told Kotaku in an interview. “But they don’t do a great job of protecting the user’s data.” In order to avoid potential data theft, Podhradsky recommends users remove the hard drives from their consoles and wipe them while connected to a PC using special software. The Drexel researcher warns that not taking this precaution could have serious consequences. “A lot of [modders and hackers] already know how to do all this,” she said. “Anyone can freely download a lot of this software, essentially pick up a discarded game console, and have someone’s identity.”

UPDATE: Microsoft contacted BGR via email with a statement regarding Kotaku’s report, which can be read below in its entirety.

“We are conducting a thorough investigation into the researchers’ claims. We have requested information that will allow us to investigate the console in question and have still not received the information needed to replicate the researchers’ claims.

“Xbox is not designed to store credit card data locally on the console, and as such seems unlikely credit card data was recovered by the method described. Additionally, when Microsoft refurbishes used consoles we have processes in place to wipe the local hard drives of any other user data. We can assure Xbox owners we take the privacy and security of their personal data very seriously.” – Jim Alkove, General Manager, Security, Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft

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Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.




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