Xbox 360 JTAG hack!

jtag1I found my old jtagged Xbox 360 today and it sent me down memory lane. What makes this so special... is that this is what originally got me into IT, technology, programming and computer security.

Back in 2010, a modification called the JTAG hack was found on the Xbox 360 consoles.What this hack allowed you to do was have full control over your Xbox. An unmodded Xbox 360 restricted you from running custom programs and games (homebrew) on your console, to prevent hackers from using hacks and cheats on their online games, and to prevent piracy of course. Microsoft put a lot of effort and work into protecting their console. However, that security was beaten with this simple modification. See, when you buy an Xbox 360 game, that game contains an RCA encryption, which must be signed by Microsoft themselves in order for the game to run on consoles. If the game is not signed, the console will not run it.

The JTAG hack allowed you to solder a modchip onto the Xbox board, and write custom firmware to the NAND chip. The custom firmware was simply just the original firmware, just with the security checks removed, allowing you to run your own games, or games other hobbyists have developed. Simple really. This modification did, unfortunately, enable piracy. I feel sorry not for the lazy uneducated investors on the board of these games... but the programmers, the artists, the designers. Their hard work should not go unpaid.

From here, I started learning C# so I could develop games for my Xbox using Microsoft XNA. Making the Xbox run my custom games was awesome, and making it do something it is not intended to do was strangely cool.


Lastly, what's really cool is the fact that the JTAG hack came with a Linux boot loader, allowing you to run Linux on your Xbox xD

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