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MS May Have Defeated Pirates.


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#1 bornonce

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Posted 14 November 2002 - 12:51 PM

It is almost indisputable that MS has learned how to detect modchips. The recent XBoxLive experience makes this very clear. I believe that MS is using the XBLive startup to scan the BIOS. And this is may not be a checksum, but a bit-by-bit IMAGE comparison. If it found a modchip, in many cases it put a hidden file on the HDD that will not allow the modded box to connect until after the launch date. (This apparently happened to me).

This is significant, because the Beta software of Motogp and Whacked! expires at the launch date, and the NEW demos must be used. Guess what! The new demos may also have modchip detection and REJECTION built into them. Trying to use the new demos on a modded box may not work. It may require you to disable the modchip. And it may do a periodic and random background check on the BIOS so that if you switch it on after the game has started it will cause the game to hang later. This has been verified by some who could connect through the dashboard but who couldn't play either the new Whacked! or motogp demos. On an unmodded XBox the new Motogp demo works fine.

And this form of protection could be used in all future games. Unlike, a PC, the XBox has some rather sophistocated encryption/decryption buit into the hardware, so the executables are digitally signed and cannot be easily modified unless you know the encryption/decryption key. This means that EVERY new game would have to be individually modified to remove the BIOS check code. On the PC, this is a piece of cake; on the XBox it may be nearly impossible.

The modchip would still allow homebrew software, Linux, modified HDDs, etc. but it would NOT allow playing games from the HDD, or from backup DVD's because the games wouldn't work with a modchip. If this is what MS is doing, piracy on the XBox is just about dead.

#2 mruell

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Posted 14 November 2002 - 01:30 PM

I think I just got hit with a piece of the sky
No sh*t
Thanks Chicken Little

mruell



#3 BenJeremy

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Posted 14 November 2002 - 01:32 PM

Thse sky is falling, Thse sky is falling!!!

Geez.

Detecting mod chips is easy. So? It's always been the case. Doesn't take a genius to figure out how to run unsigned code along side signed code on an Xbox (as a developer could do to detect a modded system).

XBEs are not encrypted. They are easy to crack and patch.

Only XBL can cause problems, since it can download executable material to the Xbox.

Heh heh... you snuck in as I was typing the above response, mruell. laugh.gif



#4 BenJeremy

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Posted 14 November 2002 - 01:34 PM

Actually, a mod should lock this thread, for its alarmist and misleading headline.

I'm really getting sick of newbies pulling this crap.

#5 TowerT

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Posted 14 November 2002 - 02:28 PM

Hey...M$ is just cutting their own throats by checks for mods on XBox Live. Alternatives to XBox Live are already being developed, that don't require a subscription fee.

#6 2000ache

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Posted 14 November 2002 - 02:57 PM

Personally I too think you've been hit by a truck or something.

But the again, I don't really care about pirated games.
I am still going to buy my games even though I modded my box.
I am still buying PC games despite all is out there for free.
Sure I tried some Xbox games the day I modded it, but I like playing mp3's
and divx's on my Xbox. Sure I've downloaded some games I would have never bought and tried them.

The games I'll play on live I'll buy wether you can play with a copy or not...

And finally, relax, sit back and wait what'll happen. I am very confident in the saying 'Nothing is secure'. So in the end, some wise guys will crack the incrackable...



#7 mikerhinos

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Posted 14 November 2002 - 04:15 PM

QUOTE (bornonce @ Nov 14 2002, 11:51 AM)
If this is what MS is doing, piracy on the XBox is just about dead.

Piracy is like a phenix. muhaha.gif

#8 bornonce

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Posted 14 November 2002 - 05:47 PM

QUOTE (BenJeremy @ Nov 14 2002, 12:34 PM)
I'm really getting sick of newbies pulling this crap.

Well, if someone who has been involved in engineering design for 25 years, including network engineering for over 10 is a newbie, then so be it. This is not alarmist, just a realization that MS is doing everything possible to protect XBox Live and to stop the use of pirated software.

They are not preventing you from having a modchip. They are just preventing you from using an enabled modchip with retail software and xbox live. So what?

It means that you would not be able to run newer games from the HHD or from a backup DVD, because they require an enabled modchip! Duh!

As far as the XBE's being unsigned, we will see about that in the future. MS uses digital signing in a lot of its Windows-based executables, and the security hooks in the XBox are built-in.

#9 mruell

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Posted 14 November 2002 - 06:13 PM

QUOTE (bornonce @ Nov 14 2002, 12:47 PM)
It means that you would not be able to run newer games from the HHD or from a backup DVD, because they require an enabled modchip! Duh!

Well were not there yet wink.gif
Right now a switch is all thats needed, but who knows what will happen in the future.
I guess only MS knows the ans.
mruell


#10 Xevious

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Posted 14 November 2002 - 06:24 PM

QUOTE (bornonce @ Nov 14 2002, 04:47 PM)
QUOTE (BenJeremy @ Nov 14 2002, 12:34 PM)
I'm really getting sick of newbies pulling this crap.

Well, if someone who has been involved in engineering design for 25 years, including network engineering for over 10 is a newbie, then so be it. This is not alarmist, just a realization that MS is doing everything possible to protect XBox Live and to stop the use of pirated software.

Wow... for an engineer, I'd expect your critical thinking skills to be a bit more polished.

You say that "MS is doing everything possible" - what is your evidence? Unless you are privy to some MS internal memos that the rest of us haven't seen, you are basing your resolute conclusions on conjecture, opinion, and the theorizing of several dozen panicky, emotional people.

THIS is why you're being compared to "chicken little." Just because the sun will set tonight doesn't mean that we'll never see the light of day again...

Sit down, shut up, and enjoy the ride... Much to the chagrin of publishers (or to the demise, as was the case for the Amiga), pirates always, always have the last word.


#11 flagg

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Posted 14 November 2002 - 07:53 PM

QUOTE
If this is what MS is doing, piracy on the XBox is just about dead.


HAHAHHAHAA Oh man, how many times have I heard that? Piracy will never die, as long as people try to prevent people from stealing software, Piracy will always exist. M$ has only several hundred programmers for the Xbox, pircay/mochips scene has millsions of people to reverse engineer

#12 ginaman

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Posted 14 November 2002 - 08:01 PM

Sony has done the same thing before. Mod chip detection is nothing new. On the PSX, it was cracked simply with either patches to an ISO, or using a gameshark to disable the detection.

The same will happen with the Xbox. And a gameshark is coming shortly for the system.

#13 bornonce

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Posted 14 November 2002 - 11:02 PM

Sorry for saying "piracy is almost dead". I meant to say CASUAL piracy is almost dead. There is little doubt that groups such as Riot, Team Executer, and Project X are finding the changes a challenge that they are interested in pursuing. You can't compare the security built-in to the PSX with the encryption schemes used in the Xbox, however. Take some time to read Bunny's presentation on the level of encryption/decryption buit into the Xbox hardware. Just a few weeks ago MS was looking for engineers to track and document the "modchip" scene, and to propose engineering countermeasures.

Bunny's presentation showed the holes in XBox security, but it also made recommendations on how to close them. It really is of not much concern to most XBox owners, who claim that they buy all of their games and don't use pirated software. It might be a concern to those who want to backup and play their games off of the XBox HDD.

And it has nothing to do with stopping the "home-brew" software efforts or the Linux effort. Just retail games and Xbox live. I have downloaded a few ISO's, I admit. If the game does not appeal to me, like "Terminator" or "The Thing", I immediately reuse my DVD-RW media for other purposes. If it is surprisingly good, like "Buffy" or "Halo", then I buy the game. Either way, the industry did not lose a single dime due to piracy.

#14 bornonce

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Posted 14 November 2002 - 11:14 PM

QUOTE (Xevious @ Nov 14 2002, 05:24 PM)
You say that "MS is doing everything possible" - what is your evidence? Unless you are privy to some MS internal memos that the rest of us haven't seen, you are basing your resolute conclusions on conjecture, opinion, and the theorizing of several dozen panicky, emotional people.


Yes, I personally know people that work at MS, and am very familiar with the millions of dollars that they have spent in researching and developing data encryption methods. How much they can apply to the XBox is limited by the hardware available, but they do not take data security lightly, particularly since your XBox is exposed to the outside world via XBox Live.

I really don't care whether they can stop the use of modchips with their software or not. This topic was started to generate intelligent discussion, and nothing more.


#15 Xevious

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Posted 14 November 2002 - 11:21 PM

Hmm... "Casual Piracy?"

Frankly, I'm one of the older folks around here, and I don't ever remember a time when "casual piracy" reigned on a system for any length of time.

There were "key disks" to combat floppy piracy, which required scene hackers to patch and release through the BBSes.

Then ROM cartridges, followed by protected ROM cartridges when the pirates surprised the game companies by bootlegging PROMs, followed shortly by ROM emulators, which needed periodic BIOS updates to keep up with ever-more clever countermeasures.

Then, of course, various attempts at creating "key" CD-ROMs, including the latest manglings of the Redbook Audio standard.

Now game companies are throwing crypto into the mix... but what do all of these technologies have in common? None of them have lasted more than a few months before they were broken, patched, or worked around by hackers, and all of them were preceeded by folks like you who were absolutely convinced that this time, the pirates will loose.

Hmm...

It kinda makes you wonder why the security industry keeps trying! After all, they're just selecting for ever-more intelligent criminals... sad.gif




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