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MS seeks ‘game hacker’ to beef up Xbox security

So it'll get tougher with Xbox 2...

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The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Microsoft is clearly serious about stopping people messing around with Xbox, whether via mod chips, bios replacements or unauthorised insertions of alternative operating systems. The company is currently running a help-wanted ad for some kind of crypto gumshoe for the Xbox design team.

This individual, who will be known only by the codename "Software Design Engineer," will be responsible for "collecting, evaluating and conducting analysis of modification chips." Presumably this will involve an awful lot of hanging around web sites of indeterminate provenance in a virtual dirty raincoat. Yes, as you (did we say 'you'? - no, we didn't mean you, it must be someone else) will also be "tracking information & feeding back to the product team," a goodly bit of snooping would certainly seem imperative.

Rather more interesting is the rest of the job description:

"The candidate will also be responsible for conducting security design reviews on Xbox hardware & software, and will assist in designing hardware detection code fragments to be embedded in future versions of the product. To be considered, candidate must have familiarity with x86 assembler, PC bus architecture and boot sequence details. Hardware knowledge and low-level software experience required. Working knowledge of cryptography & common copy protection mechanisms a plus. Preference is given to those with hardware backgrounds and game hacking knowledge."

That means Microsoft intends to bury considerably more mechanisms designed to stop people with screwdrivers and soldering irons trying to pervert Xbox into (for example) a proper computer, and that monkeying around some more with the boot is probably going to figure highly in Xbox 2. But in that case, that familiarity with "PC bus architecture" is a bit of a dead giveway for a NotaPC Really, isn't it? ®

Related:
Xbox Linux project releases SuSE 8.0 howto
The Project's Debian howto - aren't they busy bees?

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