You should think about smashing your old Xbox 360 with a hammer. Seriously.
It has happened to a few of us. Your Xbox isn’t being used enough to justify the space on your entertainment center, so you sell it on EBay, or maybe trade it in for a fancy “slim” model. Or you pledge it to pay prostitutes and blow it away. Whatever your reason for getting rid of your Xbox, you’ll be scared to learn that all of your personal information is stored on the console hard drive, even if you wipe the drive clean. Ashley Podhradsky of Drexel University in Philadelphia experimented with common tools and applications on a refurbished Xbox 360 and easily grasped sensitive items from the previous owner, such as credit card number, address, and real name. She says Microsoft should do a better job of securing your credit card numbers.
“Microsoft does a great job of protecting its proprietary information,” Podhradsky said. “But they don’t do a great job of protecting user data. Anyone can freely download much of this software, basically picking up a discarded game console and having someone’s identity.
She recommends removing your Xbox hard drive and cleaning it with a specific formatting app like Boot and Nuke to completely erase the information on magnetic discs. Actually, you should use this kind of app whenever you want to get rid of old hard drives and worry about someone hacking your CC number.
“I think Microsoft has a long-standing model on this,” Podhradsky said. “When you go to reformat your computer, like a Windows system, it tells you that all your data will be erased. Actually, that is not correct – the data is still available.”
While the most enterprising hackers can still piece them together, I still recommend the old hammer method. It’s good to be a gangster.