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Xbox 360 update seals potential security loopholes

Tue 31 Jan 2006 4:43pm GMT / 11:43am EST / 8:43am PST

The Xbox 360 has received a mandatory update from Microsoft, which, in addition to enhancing the Xbox Live experience, also prevents unauthorised code from functioning on the machine.

The Xbox 360 has received a mandatory update from Microsoft, which, in addition to enhancing the Xbox Live experience, also prevents unauthorised code from functioning on the machine.

The dashboard update, which is automatically received upon logging into Xbox Live with the machine, offers a range of enhancements for online users. These include fixes for a few minor glitches and bugs, unspecified improvements to the Xbox Guide, adding the option to retain savegames when deleting gamer profiles, increasing the accuracy of 'last time played', offering more detailed information when the console experiences a disk-read or region-lock error, and some network configuration improvements for users in the Netherlands.

According to a number of reports however, the real reason for the update was a preemptive strike of sorts, preventing a possible security breach following the availability of 'kiosk discs'.

Hackers had discovered that the discs designed for in-store Xbox 360 demonstration kiosks did not contain any copy-protection, allowing multpiple copies to be produced that would run on standard retail units. Since December, the demo disc code has been appearing on the Internet for download from Usenet sites, allowing gamers to burn their own working copy free of charge.

Although the discs in question held nothing more than game demos, it was believed that the security breach could lead to hackers uncovering further security loopholes in the new machine.As a result fo the automatic update, the kiosk discs no longer function.

It is likley that Microsoft will keep pace with the hacking community by regularly issuing automatic Xbox Live updates that, whilst offering minor enhancements to the service, are primarily designed as a security prevention measure.

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