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

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 been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content.

Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment. His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.