September 9, 2002 12:02 PM PDT

Microsoft wants to hire Xbox hacker

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In another indication of how serious Microsoft is about cracking down on "mod chips" used for hacking its Xbox game console, the company is seeking to hire a software engineer to investigate the gray-market add-ons.

A notice posted on Microsoft's hiring site seeks an engineer charged with "collecting, evaluating and conducting analysis of modification chips" as part of security research on Xbox hardware and software.

The engineer will "assist in designing hardware detection code fragments to be embedded in future versions of the product," according to the notice, another sign that Microsoft plans to devise technology to test for hacked Xbox hardware. "Preference is given to those with...gaming hacking knowledge," the notice states.

Once installed on the main circuit board of the Xbox, mod chips typically defeat security measures built into the machine, allowing hackers to play legally and illegally copied games discs, import games and homemade software.

Microsoft has said it will pursue legal action against any hacking tools that infringe on its intellectual property and may use the upcoming online service for Xbox to spot hackers.

Mod chips have turned into a battlefield of copyright law. Sony, whose PlayStation 2 console is the target of close to a dozen makers of mod chips, claims the devices infringe on its rights to enforce copyrights. Yet recent legal rulings have cast doubt on such arguments.


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