'Hacking the XBox' - cult classic or crime?

Thursday, 29 May 2003, 1:06 PM EST

Andrew "Bunnie" Huang's new book may not become a mainstream bestseller, but it quite likely will be a cult classic among hackers -- and that is enough to incur the wrath of the world's largest software maker.

Huang is the author of "Hacking the XBox: Inside the Big Green X." Having recently earned his Ph.D in electrical engineering from M.I.T., he describes himself as "part engineer, part hacker." But "more of a hacker in the traditional sense -- when hacker meant a geek who played with computers a lot, rather than a script-kiddie hacker," he told NewsFactor.

The step-by-step guide explores the security vulnerabilities in Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) XBox. It provides information about mod chips and teaches readers how to replace the XBox's firmware, an upper level hacker's trick. Equipped with the book and a soldering iron, the reader can completely reverse-engineer Microsoft's game console.

"My original motivation was, like, 'Hacking is cool -- I want to explore how to go through secure systems,'" Huang said. "I wrote the book very much as an educational book about reverse engineering. It's like, 'Oh, here's the XBox, here's a common example,' but once you're done with the book, you ought to be able to take your PC apart and do the same sort of thing."

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