Hackers can extract credit card information from old Xboxes

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Xboxsecurity

Have you sold, traded in or – you generous person, you – given away your Xbox 360? Maybe it’s been stolen? If you answered yes to any of ‘em, your personal details might be at stake.

Researchers at Philadelphia’s Drexel University have found that with a few elementary modding and hacking skills were able to extract personal information – including credit card information – from a 2nd hand Xbox.

Speaking to Kotaku, Drexel researcher Ashley Podhradsky said accused Microsoft of doing its customers a  "disservice" by not ensuring personal and private data is secure.

"Microsoft does a great job of protecting their proprietary information," she said. "But they don’t do a great job of protecting the user’s data."

Podhradsky says she and her colleagues bought a 2nd hand Xbox 360 directly from Microsoft – one that had been formatted and reset to factory default settings and, using freely available software, were able to read the contents of the consoles drive – eventually finding the credit card details and personal information of the previous owner.

Of course, for anybody who’s worked in IT and dealt with Microsoft’s Windows this is hardly surprising.

"I think Microsoft has a longstanding pattern of this," Podhradsky said. "When you go and reformat your computer, like a Windows system, it tells you that all of your data will be erased. In actuality that’s not accurate—the data is still available… so when Microsoft tells you that you’re resetting something, it’s not accurate.

"There’s a lot more that needs to be done."

So what can you do to safeguard your information? Podhradsky suggests hooking your console’s hard drive up to your computer and using a proper drive sanitation program that’ll wipe it properly. My own suggestion? Never put your credit card details on your console, instead opt for prepaid vouchers and cards – which not only keep your information safe, but are also often cheaper than buying games or points directly.

Last Updated: March 30, 2012

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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