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How a USB Memory Update could destroy Xbox LIVE

I’m guessing by now you have all read the news on the possibility of a ‘Spring Update‘ that will enhance our memory saving actions on the Xbox360 console to allow for USB Memory Sticks? Joystiq claim that this will happen since alleged sources provided them with Microsoft documentation and images that they copied and posted online. Will this become a reality - or are we about to call jokestiq on joystiq?

With the closure of Xbox LIVE for Xbox Originals on April 16th to make way for future planned developments to Xbox LIVE on the 360 - it certainly would come as no surprise that an update would be in store to bring gamers a much needed improvement to the service. This could bring many new features such as interactivity with the upcoming Windows Mobile 7, a huge increase to our friends list with the ability to create groups, but would Microsoft really be that stupid to allow any gamer to freely download Xbox LIVE Arcade games, Indie Games, Games on Demand and DLC content to a USB Memory Device? At the moment unless an official Microsoft source confirms this by official means, it seems doubtful.

The conclusions are that by allowing such data and information onto USB memory devices, information can be shared around far more freely and transfered with ease to any PC. It would only be a matter of plugging in the device, copying the information to the USB Memory Source, then taking it to any PC for copying to a specified area. This can be done now by purchasing unauthorised devices which attach to the official console memory cards and HDD’s which is a current violation against the Xbox LIVE Terms of Use and Code of Conduct. If microsoft allow any gamer the free ability to copy and transfer files to a PC - the increase of modding and hacking enthusiasts could become more widespread damaging a service that already is healing itself from the wrath of Prestige Lobbies and unlimited ammo exploits.

Without naming the sources and software, modders have already found ways of manipulating game files that allow them to unlock any Xbox LIVE Arcade Trials into a full game. This is currently a simple exploit that rips off the developers and Microsoft - with the right know how it can be done in two simple steps!

There are also methods available that allow hackers to tamper with any game ISO files on a PC, write it to a DVD-R and install this tampered ISO to the console. Then the game can be played offline and online through Xbox LIVE by using the original disc to boot the ‘Play from Hard Drive’ option on the dashboard. This is potentially the most damaging of all since it allows the modification of points per kill, potential unlocks, armour, weapon fire rates and character health. With the introduction of saving files to a USB device, it could become possible that distribution of modified gaming files could be downloaded from the internet, modified and placed on the USB Memory Device where an original game disc could boot to play. This saves those without the in depth know how or knowledge the hassle of having to hack, and is made easier by just downloading what could be a freely available file online made possible by an experienced hacker!

If such a ‘Spring Update’ is in existence, it could potentially be a damaging aspect to the future of Xbox LIVE and destroy the happy gaming experiences of many - this could be reduced if the rumoured 16GB limit wasnt in place, or it could only be used for save files, avatar data and gamer profile information. No factual truth is yet known in what Joystiq are reporting, but it could be another possibility that USB Memory Options are being opened up for developers on Dev Kit Consoles.

We’ll keep you posted should Microsoft release any further information to validate a console update.

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39 comments on 'How a USB Memory Update could destroy Xbox LIVE'

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Comment by MrFlotz on 2010-03-19 11:33:48 | Reply

What do you care you sob

Comment by r1sh12 on 2010-03-19 11:34:37 | Reply

Totally agree with this article, the usb support will get hacked so easily. So this now means that anyone could download the hacked game ISO from the internet, edit it so the xbox thinks youve installed it to your usb device, then put in the game dsic and play and edited ISO file lololol…
Look whats already happened to modern warfare 2 leaderboards! Infinity Ward have runied a great game, and the number of mods that are online are crazy. Well done M.S

Comment by sukru on 2010-03-19 11:35:18 | Reply

You’re missing a point. They USB sticks will be registered to a single console, and they will higly probably be encrypted with the console’s key.

Comment by Jashmister on 2010-03-19 11:41:12 | Reply

encrypted or not its gona be broken
this just allows more idiots to tamper with saves more and screw up xbox live even more

Comment by sukru on 2010-03-19 13:15:51 | Reply

but extracting the key from the system requires at least modding/jtagging it. Those who can do that can (and do) already tamper with their savegames.

Comment by MistaMeana on 2010-03-19 11:42:40 | Reply

Regardless of keys, USB Sticks aren’t registered to the one PC, so as long as you have the ability to take files off it & put files on it. It doesn’t matter if its only registered to one console, the point of the article is the damage that just one console can do!

Comment by bob on 2010-03-19 12:57:45 | Reply

You can download games onto your usb on the ps3 and those can’t be ripped ontoa computer or anything like that the same with the psp games u download on your memorystick they cant be unencrypted or what ever so. I think it would be a great idea to include usb support.

Comment by oldest gamer on 2010-03-19 13:17:08 | Reply

USB is limited to 16GB on the xbox 2 (360). PS3 has no such limitation.

What are you talking about? I have my 500Gb external HDD sometimes connected to my x360. I can listen to music and watch movies just fine - I do not see any “16Gb size limit” there… whole 500Gb is accessible.

The 16GB limit will be in place for Xbox360 related Gaming content and Files. For instance, if the Update came and your 500GB HDD was plugged in, the console would only allocate up to 16GB to store data on such as DLC, Arcade Games and Saves - which your current HDD can not at the moment store any of these files for use on the console.

Comment by MrA on 2010-03-19 13:28:59 | Reply

“Without naming the sources and software, modders have already found ways of manipulating game files that allow them to unlock any Xbox LIVE Arcade Trials into a full game.”

The hacks you talk about require you to have an older version of firmware. If you’ve got the latest version of the dashboard on your console, you’re too late. MS have already patched Xbox Live to detect and ban these JTAG hacked consoles. So it only works offline. So cheating online isn’t really possible.

I think the USB update is the right move. If people want to risk there console being banned, so be it. It’s even possible that we will see a new form of file system encryption to protect against current & future gamertag and save hacking.

Thank you for you article and opinion. Personally I think this update wont have any effect on the service. Let’s all hope. Peace.

Comment by LevelHead on 2010-03-19 14:29:08 | Reply

What people fail to realize is that XBL is a closed service controlled by Microsoft. Which means any manipulation will get that player banned. Plus you have to know Microsoft already has looked into these worries.

Comment by dermoptera on 2010-03-19 21:34:18 | Reply

I’ll bet they have, and as usual there will be a GIANT release of some sort to get profits up and as usual they will go on a “BANNING SPREE” so that Gates can line his pockets some more.

Comment by Cueil on 2010-03-20 10:39:38 | Reply

you truely are a moron… Gates lining his pocket? Maybe you don’t keep up with the news

Comment by Veritas on 2010-03-19 16:05:16 | Reply

Great story, Jason. :)

Comment by Tony on 2010-03-19 17:30:16 | Reply

The usb drive will be partioned to the xbox 360, so a pc could not simply read it and let you copy files off it.

anything on a memory device, partition or not can be read by a PC when you put it into the usb port.

Comment by dermoptera on 2010-03-20 04:26:36 | Reply

Not that hard to crack the partition if you know how.

Comment by ds4a on 2010-04-07 07:59:19 | Reply

It’s just a hidden folder named Xbox360, inside it are some files. yes just files no extensions just files. named file001, 002,003 etc

Comment by Tony on 2010-03-19 21:15:18 | Reply

Okay, I didn’t know what I was on about, I just wanted to sound smart lol :D

Comment by dermoptera on 2010-03-19 21:30:49 | Reply

Doesn’t matter. It’s already extremely hackable and any dip**** with the ability to “google” how to hack it can, and will. Not to mention SBL sucks ass anyway, can’t play anything online without some jack-ass ruining the whole experience anyway. Let Microsoft slit their throats if they want to!

Comment by Blajajaja on 2010-03-19 21:39:45 | Reply

You literally just described how wide spread the problem is now, the same people using these hacks now are the same ones that are going to do it in the future and MS is still going to crack down just as they do now. So the problem isn’t going to grow or ruin and since this article has little to none research, you have to take every bit of it with a grain of salt, especially with as little information as we have now.

People have been able to mod and hack for decades, it has never ruined anything because there are still plenty of legitimate players out there.

You know how easy it is to steal cable? VERY VERY simple, but it hasn’t ruined television.

It’s far more easier to hack PC games, but PC gaming is very far from ruined and about the only gaming taken seriously and professionally aside from arcade fighters.

The simplicity of hacking now is reason why this article is complete bunk, it’s only making the job slightly less difficult for the same people who hac already.

Comment by TK Chillin on 2010-03-19 23:27:30 | Reply

Looking forward to the story on how the new update allowed MS to catch even more Cheaters. When you set a trap it helps to have some Bait!!!

Comment by dotfortun3 on 2010-03-20 04:31:51 | Reply

Two words on this… April Fool’s

Comment by Tony on 2010-03-20 11:48:41 | Reply

I think that most people who are saying that only allowing up 16GB is stupid don’t even own xbox 360s.

Comment by Solo761 on 2010-03-20 23:58:00 | Reply

The way I see it, person who wrote this has no clue what so ever, and it’s based purely on hearsay.

1) You can connect current XBox HDD to PC with no problems what so ever. It’s against the TOS? Device to do it comes from microsoft itself. It’s called HDD Transfer Kit. I used it to transfer data from my old 20 GB HDD to new 120 GB one. It could be done via XBox itself, it’s even not guaranteed that it will transfer everything, like particular saves. Using it on PC to first make backup with these “hacker” tools and then restoring it to new one will in fact transfer all saves. Only thing it didn’t do right was transfer games that were installed to HDD which was fine by me. So are you saying that it’s against the TOS for me to be able to have all of my saves transferred to new storage and it’s OK to loose them?

2) Unlocking trial marketplace games into full ones and using modified ISO’s for games has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with ISO. It’s an exploit for earlier version of XBox360 kernel. If you have console that’s up to date you can’t do it on any console you want to. So far I haven’t seen one, I’ve only heard it’s possible to do it in these rare units, mostly ones that have been in stores for some time to be old enough and vulnerable for this exploit. And even then, you can’t go online with this console, it’s not just put DVD in drive, wait for it to spin and you have modded console. This mod requires hardware modding on XBox motherboard. XBox live detects this in a heartbeat so you don’t have to worry that someone will add aimbot, wallhack or whatever to their game and cheat that way. Sure, they could do it, but they COULDN’T play online with it anyway.

3) DVD drive mod is the only one you can have the chance to play online with if you have burned game disc. But that’s all it is. Burned version of original one. If the game is in any way modified it simply won’t boot. Why? Because every executable is digitally signed, if you modify it XBox won’t boot it because this digital signature will be corrupted. You can go around it with that hardware mod, but if you do that you’ll get banned on XBLA the instant you connect that modded console to it. You can’t even use hardware modded console to install it to HDD and then connect that HDD to normal console because installed content is locked to the console that installed it, if you try to run it it will simply say that it wasn’t installed with this console and you need to reinstall it if you want to play. Unless it would simply give out corrupted data message in case game executable was modified and digital signature corrupted. Because of this digital signature there aren’t any patches for ISO’s that are locked to some region to make them region free. If you modify anything in executable you can kiss that digital signature goodbye. XBox simply won’t run executable that doesn’t have valid digital signature. If it’s modified in any way that digital signature is corrupted. It’s the same for marketplace games. They can be unlocked by cracking their executable which also have that digital signature. That’s why it works on those hardware modded XBox, they don’t check this signature, normal units do and to them this game will simply be corrupted data. This all has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with USB and will not automagically mod motherboards of your units.

This potential USB feature has absolutely nothing with your “concerns”. Only thing it will make easier is save backup. And disappointing few kids when they figure out they can’t swap saves because they’re coded to specific XBLA profile. There is way around this, but it will not grant you any achievements if that’s the next thing you’re going to witch hunt against because you earn them and they’re added to your profile, not to save file…

Comment by GoldyChinYa on 2010-03-21 00:54:59 | Reply

The article is quite correct in that it should cause concerns for the average gamer. Of course a modder will come in here and prove otherwise, but look what they can do now on Xbox Live that they couldnt before. I remember a time when the most advanced mod was editing a gamesave. Things have come a long way in a short space of time, and who knows the damage this update could bring. It could bring further exploits and I fully understand the point of the writers message.

Reading further down, he didn’t state that unlocking arcade games had anything to with ISO’s, and I can actually read that he says Modders can mod now by using devices that attach to the memory card & HDD’s.

I thought it was a good read and it does make me wonder if allowing usb memory devices would encourage people to hack more and make it more easy for people to do since they dont need to buy transfer cables, datel sata add-ons etc.?

The bit I think could have been explained better was the running of modified ISO Data. The gist is there where it implies that basically install a game to USB Memory, swap the data for modded data, and then run it on the console using the original game disc to run the code because the original would boot the console to load the file on USB Memory. This tricky method is called HotSwap with discs at the moment.

Unfortunately the modding scene is improving all the time, and we would only have to wait and see what USB Support could bring us. I get your point on the ease of freely distributed files and since the files would be more than just gamesaves we just have to wait & see what happens when it happens, even if it happens lol

But as the guy above pointed out, things can be done with an MS Transfer cable, so they can’t even release that without a modder ruining it!

Comment by Solo761 on 2010-03-21 12:04:58 | Reply

That “ISO’s” with trials was a typo, I meant USB, but since I don’t have edit option…

I’m sorry but this article isn’t “quite correct”. What it’s missing is proof. I wrote how stuff works, not how I think stuff works.

I’m not a modder and I don’t have to prove anything. I couldn’t mod my XBox anyway since it has current dashboard version that can’t be hacked. I’m simply stating how stuff works.

I’ll repeat myself, there is no way you’re going to run modified executable on XBox. Disk swap? How is that going to work? OK, you install the game on USB stick, put it in your PC, edit, mod, patch, whatever to it’s executable and put it back in. Now what? You put disc in the drive and start the game. Beeep! No go. XBox checked for game disc in the drive, that passed, then it checked for executable digital signature, that failed. Game won’t launch… If you even get that far. It would probably said it’s corrupted data before and you wouldn’t even be able to get to DVD check.

Same with hotswap. You have modded DVD and original one. You boot the original one, it passes original DVD check, you swap it with light speed with modified one, XBox checks for exe digital signature, loading fails… If you let it load exe from original disc it won’t fail. But that wouldn’t do aynthing since then it would use original and not hacked one so again, no cheating…

Only thing this article is, is a witch hunt. Author points his finger at something and shouts “Wiiiitch!!!!” when he doesn’t know if his theory could even work.

Only cheats possible are the ones poor game design allows at the moment, like all the crap that’s happening in Modern Warfare 2. And that has nothing to do with modding or USB. It’s just bad game design. On PC version of that game even extremely high frame per second rate gives you advantage over others, like faster walk, no sound while you walk, higher jumping or faster shooting so people are turning detail off and using ridiculously small resolutions to get these high FPS’s just so they could glitch. Luckily I learned my lesson with CoD4 so I haven’t wasted money on MW2. But all that has nothing to do with modding, it’s just bad game design and exploiting it.

Comment by SteveoMomster on 2010-03-21 14:01:34 | Reply

“I’m sorry but this article isn’t “quite correct”. What it’s missing is proof. I wrote how stuff works, not how I think stuff works.”

Haha - you can write as much as you want, but are you actually reading the news post. It doesnt state anything concrete, it’s just possibilities.

No one can read! He has said what methods and what modders are currently doing now. The news post is all about what may happen, not what will.

There can’t be no proof unless the usb support is live and we can see it happening.

Comment by Solo761 on 2010-03-21 16:16:51 | Reply

No, they’re not possibilities. I’ve written long and wide why it can’t happen. You can screw around your data as much as you will, but it won’t work since you’ll break digital signature on that file. This won’t change when/if USB support comes. Only thing it’ll allow is to back your profile/saves on your PC, or maybe even use the same profile on Games for Windows Live. If you have hardware modded console you can skip this signature check, BUT that mod is too intrusive and you won’t last a minute online with that kind of console.

And how you explain that all this hasn’t already happened on PS3 where you can copy saves to memory sticks from day one?

USB support won’t add anything new except what it says, USB support…

Comment by xx ItZ MaNiC xx on 2010-03-21 17:27:08 | Reply

My opinion is that it doesnt matter if this increases modders or not, I think it will make people more interested in manipulating files since they have easier acces to the information without needing to buy or obtain extra cables or hardware - BUT - it still dont matter remember, that Microsoft & Datel are in a lawsuit over MS making their own up to 16GB Mem Cards Invalid. It seems likely that MS could lose this lawsuit, so in a good business move so that sales of Datel 16GB mem cards wouldnt take off, MS make it possible so that USB memory Sticks which most people own anyway can be used - so Datel if they win the lawsuit have still lost the memory card war.

This isnt about modders, hacking and I doubt MS really want to allow this update, but as part of their lawsuit to Datel - it may have been a forced issue.

Damn I wish I had included the lawsuit in the article :)

Comment by Tony on 2010-03-22 01:20:40 | Reply

The walls of texts are being whacked out now :D

Comment by Ronald Reagan on 2010-03-23 17:28:50 | Reply

I was thinking the same thing when it comes to all that modding and hacking.I mean really it is all ready easy enough to mod games now (For instace look at MW2 Now,with 10 presteige hack,gold deagle,and alot more) and now it going to be 10 times easier.WTF!!!


It is actually theoretically and practically possible to modify executable game files and the content thereof compiled into a modified disc image and authored onto a DVD-R and/or installed to a removable drive. Also, the digital signatures hashes are checked to be bit-for-bit representations of the original but it is entirely possible to modify a file with a verified digital certificate and then reconstitute its digital signature so it precisely spoofs the original. You must remember that digital key checking on executable files is not a continual process. The upshot is that X-BOX Live security protocols will not prosecute data that it believes to be valid. Opening up removable media for storage of game data, save files, etc is really immaterial to the possibilities or realizations of the use fraudulent hardware and software.

Comment by Jagosix on 2010-04-07 11:50:05 | Reply

Hello Fellow Gamers. What a theory. This will in no way destroy XBLive. I’ve read most of the the posts up to this point. Didn’t Datel do the same thing with their memory sticks? So now MicroSoft is letting anyone with a USB memory stick use it just like any other memory card or HDD. So what of it?
Well.. in some aspect it’s better than what you can do with a PS3. What? some of you don’t agree? ok how about this.
1.Sony does not allow the PS3 to install games into thumb drives, no matter how big or small they are.
2.Try moving SFIV game saves from the PS3 HDD to a USB memory stick or another HDD. Not going to happen. There are a lot of other PS3 games that are that way.

Why are some of you worried about this feature? If anything you should be relieved with having the ability to obtain and save your content without buying over priced M$ products. People read way to much into something so simple.

Comment by spazz4393 on 2010-04-28 18:50:54 | Reply

wow i dont no much about hacking and stuff like this so i dont no how its going to end up it probely will mess live up cus there is ways to skame them if someone has arcade games on there gamer card you could tranfer the gamer card over to a nuther persones and redowne lode them and i have a kot of free arcade games frim doing that

Comment by just a modder on 2010-08-18 21:47:49 | Reply

this was all already possible, and done before the usb update, transfer cable abuse is ftw.

Comment by charlie on 2010-08-19 00:00:32 | Reply

Seriously, why reply to a 4-month old Artical?

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