Security Advisor

Used Xbox May Hide Your Credit Card Info

Researchers from Drexel University in Philadelphia are warning that you may be handing hackers your wallet when you decide to sell your used Xbox 360.

The group found that even after a system has been set back to its default manufacturer settings, crafty crooks can use readily available mods and hacking tools to retrieve your credit card information from the video game console's hard drive.

They came to this conclusion by purchasing a preowned Xbox 360 and snagging the last owner's credit card digits with what they called "basic hacking tools."

Microsoft responded to the claim a bit strangely this week: it both denied that this was possible and that it was investigating to see if the claim was true. So which one is it? Is it not possible to pull off user info from a formatted hard drive or does Microsoft need more time to investigate? It can't be both.

Luckily (or unluckily) for me, as someone who used to game on the Xbox 360, there's no way they can get my information. I've repurchased the system three times, and all three have died of hardware failure. Now if thieves want to break into my closet, snag my broken pile of consoles, get them up and running and try to steal my information, more power to them.

For those rare individuals who have an Xbox 360 that still is in working condition (why can't I keep one of these running properly, yet my Nintendo Entertainment System still works perfectly more than 20 years later?) and would like to make a few bucks selling it, the researchers at Drexel advises you reset the console to factory setting, hook up the hard drive to a PC and use a third-party tool to purge all information completely.

While you take the time (hopefully) to follow safe security practices with your PC and business network, do you bring that vigilance to your personal entertainment devices? Let me know at [email protected]


About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for and


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