You should center the pictures and make the font under them tiny and italicized so it looks more like I wrote it.
Grand Theft Xbox: 360
Need cash? You'll feel better about yourself if you do this...
Unfortunately, there's no cure for the dirty stink you feel after selling things to Gamestop- not at this time, anyway. Even more unfortunately, researchers at Drexel University discovered during a study that is still going on, reformatting your hard drive doesn't remove all your data off of it- even the data that is stored on Microsoft's servers, like your credit card data.
Xbox publisher, Microsoft, is doing a disservice to its customers by not doing a better job of keeping personal data protected.
~Ashley Podhradsky, researcher from Drexel University
If you're like me, right about now you're probably wondering where the heck Drexel University is, and if they're an actual school, or a school like the University of Phoenix is a school. After some research of my own, I've found they are actually a school, and are actually have some NCAA division 1 sports teams (field hockey, squash, and lacrosse to name a few)! Go Dragons!
Three researchers from this illustrious school, and one from Dakota State University, bought a used console and discovered that, even after wiping your hard drive, a hacker can use basic and easily available modding tools to get into your information. When you think about everything personal that is attached to your gamertag (address, credit card info, real birthdate...), it's hard to be comfortable with thinking there are people out there who can find this stuff out so easily. It's true, though- Drexel's research team fished out the original owner's credit card information, including the number and the company that issued the card.
And you can't delete cards, either!
So what about Microsoft's great data protection systems? According to Podhradsky, "Microsoft does a great job of protecting their proprietary information." Good to know that's safe, at least.
Your credit card isn't the only thing that could be floating around in someone else's cyberspace, though. According to Podhradsky's report, using a tool called XFT 2.0, they were able to recover deleted files, gamertags, network vulnerabilities, and a cache of the user's recent players list/ friend list, which included gamertags that the original xbox's owner interacted with. So even if you haven't sold a console yourself, your personal information can be at risk if you've just played with someone who went on to sell their console. With how frequently people use their gamertags as individual addresses to their Facebook and Google+ pages, gamers are more vulnerable than they have previously thought.
Think that's bad? Once someone is using XFT to crack your hard drive, they have access to your purchase history through the marketplace. Xbox caches an exported copy to the hard drive, and it remains there, even after the hard drive is reformatted.
Of course, none of this should surprise anyone who has watched a crime show before, since it's common for computers to be taken as evidence and for forensic teams to be able to reconstruct the contents of a deleted hard drive, but it still makes you think twice about the wisdom of using an old console as a way to make a quick 40 bucks.
If you absolutely must sell your console with the hard drive, or if you're throwing one out, Podhradsky's team suggests connecting the hard drive to your computer and downloading a software sanitizer to run on it. They recommend a sanitizer called Boot and Nuke, saying that when they used it, no data could be recovered off the old hard drive.
I guess a really big magnet was off the table...
image courtesy of macetech
Thanks to THEEvol1 for the tip!