A former Microsoft Xbox developer says the recent Sony PlayStation Network hack may have been the result of "consumer retaliation" for Sony's lawsuits against PS3 hackers.
"Going after individuals in a manner that may not stimulate good favor towards the company? That can result in consumer retaliation." said Johnny Chung Lee, a computer scientist who famously hacked a Nintendo Wiimote in 2008 and was hired by Microsoft to develop the Kinect. "You can't tell whether or not there's a causation between the two events, but it's hard not to believe that one was not related to the other."
Lee, a Google researcher with a PhD in "human-computer interaction" from Carnegie Mellon University, is perhaps best-known for hacking Nintendo's Wiimote with a few ballpoint pens and infrared lights back in 2008, and posting a demo on YouTube (see below). Microsoft hired him to work on the Kinect's development team, and in January 2011, Google poached him to work as a "rapid evaluator" on experimental applications.
Lee told us that while he's not entirely familiar with the security measures of either company, he does know that Xbox Live servers were built by people trained in Microsoft's enterprise network solution.
"I'd be surprised if the Xbox Live was as vulnerable as the PlayStation Network," he said. "Xbox Live is built on top of a Microsoft enterprise console."
Lee also emphasized that Xbox Kinect hacks have only taken place in the console's peripherals, like controllers, which is why Microsoft hasn't had to pursue legal action against hackers the way Sony has.
"The console was never compromised, so there was never any question whether the Kinect hack would've compromised copyright violations," he said. This is "significantly different" from PSN's situation, he said.
On Tuesday Chung spoke at Wired Business Conference: Disruptive by Design in New York about his efforts to "repurpose" (read: hack) the Kinect, in the ongoing Open Kinect Project.
No network is 100 percent impenetrable, but nervous Xbox Live members can take several important measures to play it safe on the Xbox.
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