BANNED FROM XBOX LIVE EXPLAINED
From Major Nelson (Xbox Employee)
SketchFactor posted the following in
an update over at Bungie.nett
07-22-2005, 07:26 AM
The latest Halo 2 auto update was released over Xbox Live
yesterday (which would have been July 21st) and will automatically
download to your console the next time you try to play a game over
Live. This update contains tools to detect and ban anyone who uses
hacked or modified content online. Despite our ongoing warnings, there
are people who insist on using hacks and to date 2,550 of them have
been permanently banned.
Microsoft decided that the
release of Halo 2 was a good time to start banning people with modded
Xbox’s; as they reserve the right to do in the terms of service
everyone agreed too when they signed up. Microsoft’s official
word is “Users are not permitted to manipulate the system to the
detriment of others.”
Microsoft’s primary concern, at least publically, seemed to be online
cheating. A modchip allows a modified version of software to boot,
giving cheaters an unfair advantage (Wouldn’t be much of a cheat
otherwise). Now, all sane thinking people know, cheaters are
scum, so banning them is a great idea. However, a lot of people that
have never broken the law are being caught with this. Merely upgrading
your Xbox internal harddrive seems to, according to reports, count as
modding the system, and results in a ban.
What have we done so far? A lot. Certainly on the technical side we're
making progress and politically, we've been banning Xbox Live accounts
regularly when we find clear evidence of cheating (and the evidence is
hard to refute since we track very detailed information about the game
and network experience) and we ban offensive Gamertags, abusive players
and other miscreants all the time. It just takes time. If you ARE
cheating, quit it now, firstly because we're politely and respectfully
asking you to do so, and secondly because it's very often a terms of
use violation, and one we can act upon by banning you, banning your
credit card, etc.
BANNING SCHEMES & REMIDIES (If Known)
There are currently four reasons
that people think they are being
banned from Xbox Live with modchips and upgraded Hard Drives:
The Marriage Theory: When
you go on XBL with an Xbox, M$ marries your EEPROM to your HD serial in
their database. The only way to avoid this is to keep your
original HD, and do not modify the M$Dash (like with the DVD Region
Patch). It must stay 100% as it was the day you signed on to
IF possiblle? Use your original HDD only for live play. The
way things are going now, you can get banned for just about anything,
so use your Original drive, and boot MOD OFF.
Current best info is, if you performed your HD upgrade before
running XB Live 2.0, which was after July 2004, then you're in the
2. LPC scan:
checks to see if you have a modchip installed. Not sure if
currently being done, tests passed. I have not read or found
anything tha states that they are, or can scan the LPC bus. Update: XBL is supposed to be doing
a "flow current" check, what ever that means, who knows.
A person has visually seen his LPC scanned by Microsoft by wathing his
lights on the chip change color while booted to a game with the chip
off. He swears that it is 100% true, so do your research.
There is no fix, if they can scan the LPC, then a new "stealth"
tachnology chip would need to be made.
contents check: Checks to see if you have any illegal code on
your C: and E: partions of your Xbox... Now that M$ knows what to
look for, this is another possibility, but has not been the case for
tests by Xtender. Update:
The first time you sign on to XBL, the HDD is being scanned for any
files that DO NOT belong there. This began with XBL version
2.0, which is a update from M$.
To avoid a contents check you need to EDIT the hacked bios and make the
ince the OE bios does not see partition F, it can never be scanned by
Microsoft. Before you ask, no, they can't update the BIOS because
the onboard chip is write protected, and, V1.6+ do not have one.
You would have to have applied the wiring for a TSOP flash in order for
that to even be considered.
Do not install anything to E Partition, only use F and G, and Microsoft
can't scan them when booted to the OE Bios.
Key check: Almost
the same as the MARRIAGE Theory, exept that they are now checking your
box for a regisered key, which was done during production. Your
Xbox Serial, EEprom Serial, and HDD_Key are recorded in a databse
during production. It used to be, if you haven't been on XBL yet,
you could upgrade the HDD then sign on, mod off, and it was ok.
Event though the HDD_Key would not be the same as the Original drive,
they didn't have one to compare it with the first time you signed
on. Now, you will be banned, becuase the HDD_Key you have now,
won't match any in their records.
The word was, that since the "Leak" and Release of Halo II, they re
Scans, and, I am willing to bet the software is incorporated into one
of the Halo II updates, or the game disc itself. Everything I have read about people
being banned was right after playing Halo II, even with the modchip
off! M$ Is cracking down on modders.
those of you with SoftModded Xboxs? You are more at
risk than anyone else. Softmodding uses a software expliot by
renaming original files to something else, then replace the original
files with Xploits. If your HDD is scanned, and is found
that the files are not what expected, the exploit is rendured
inoperable. Since that is done without restoring the original
files you renamed, or altered, the xbox will not boot to the HDD
anymore. You can still boot originals from the DVD, and they will
not restore your dashboard -via- an update. To make a long story
short, you will have to install a modchip to be able to boot from the
HDD, once files are put back to the way they were. Since this is
not a CHIP mod, the C partition will always have illegal files, and
can't be any other way.
The people at Xtender have
tested each theory, and the marriage theory
resulted in getting banned each time. Their conclusion was that the
only real way to not get banned was by using an original Xbox hard
drive, and not having a modchip enabled when signing on.
If you have been banned, you would have to unlock the HDD, then flash
your Onboard EEPROM with one that has never been on line before, relock
the HDD and sign on MOD OFF. Changing EEPROM’s and getting a new
original hard drive can prove difficult. You can sometimes find a
matching mainboard and HDD on Ebay - Be sure to ask if has even been on
XBL, or is Banned from XBL.
The Xtender allows you to install 3 hard drives. Because
Microsoft is checking for original hard drives over XBL, it makes sense
to keep the original, and expand on top of it.
Using the xtender will allow you to switch hard drives on the fly (with
power off) with
little fear of getting banned. The only way you could get banned with
the xtender is if you fail to shut off the chip AND your bios do not
support Xbox live blocking... I was banned when I apllied the
REGION Patch to the Dashboard, I got a nice message titled "Your Xbox
Has Been Modded".
With all of the banning reasons in mind, they flag your Gamer
Tag. They do not ban it, but flag it. By flagging your
Gamer Tag, M$ knows you have been previously banned before, and will
begin performing more extensive tests on any other, or other/same Xbox
connecting with that Gamer Tag. They are doing that to determine
if it has been modded. Part of these extensive tests is M$ checking to
see if you have a stock HDD installed. If you don't, then you're banned.
1. Acquire and
install a new unbanned HDD.
2. Format the HDD and install
the retail MS Dashboard using Slayers 2.6.
3. Acquire and install a new
unbanned/unused EEPROM using ConfigMagic.
4. Register a new Xbox Live
account using a different Gamer Tag.
You do not have to do step four if and only if you are installing an
unbanned stock HDD. Do not copy anything directly from your old HDD.
Install all software fresh and copy any saved games using a memory card.
1. Buy a new, cheap Xbox, and use that for Live play only.
MAC stands for Media Access Control and in a sense the MAC address is a
computer’s true name on a LAN. An Ethernet MAC address is a six byte
number, usually expressed as a twelve digit hexadecimal number
(Example: 1AB4C234AB1F). IPs are translated to MAC address by a
protocol called ARP (Address Resolution Protocol).
The MAC Address is stored in the Xbox Serial EEPROM, but will changing
it do you any good? They're supposed to be HARD CODED into the
network adapter itself. The 12-digit number at the bottom-right
corner of the Network Settings screen (OE Dash) is the MAC address of
your Xbox console.
You should not need to change the MAC address to unban the console,
just a valid serial# and hdd key.
I read this at: http://www.xbox-hq.com/html/article1368.html
Apparently Microsoft is now only banning the HDD-Key and not the Serial
Number/Mac Address of the EEprom as before. This means that you do not
need a whole new EEprom to get unbanned, but only a valid and
So if your Xbox got banned you can unban it by unlocking your HD,
change the HDD-Key in your EEprom (using configmagic or other EEprom
tools) with a unbanned one from another EEprom (you can't just use a
random key - it must be a valid one from a retail box), then just
relock your HD and your Xbox will be unbanned. Even using an old banned
EEprom and change it with an unbanned HDD-Key, will allow you to
connect on LIVE. This has been tested for over a week and the xbox is
still not banned. The box in question has been banned several times
before as well as had it's live account terminated. Angerwound even
tested it by putting random information on all other paramaters except
the HDD-Key and it connected fine on LIVE.
This could have a great deal to do with why people are randomly getting
banned now. They had previously been using a valid serial number/Mac
address but now the authentication servers do not want to validate
their HDD Key.
I myself, have changed serial numbers in my EEPROM and could not get
back on. I was banned before the KEYcheck, just the Serial & Mac
address. Others have aquired virgin EEproms and were banned again in 10
There exists HDD-Flagged versions of game executables. These
files are sent down by the MS service when a game engine needs updated
or bugs need fixed. Users were taking these special XBE's and
placing them on the hard drive as 'xboxdash.xbe' on the 'C'
Partition. Now you might think to yourself, how is this going to
allow them to run the game when only the XBE file is located on the
drive. Well, turns out if you place a backup of the game in the
dvd-rom and then place this XBE as 'xboxdash.xbe' the xbe will be
launched due to the correct signatures and then the files will be
accessed from the DVD-Rom. In conclusion, what do you have? A backup
running on live. I wouldn't advise anyone to attempt this now,
because it will result in a ban and will not connect to the service any
longer because of what is being checked.
In order for them to detect this they have to be
xboxdash.xbe file on the /c/ partition. That would be the only way of
detecting this, besides scanning what partition your running the XBE
file from, when you connect to the service.
November 16, 2004
cracks down on Xbox hacks as 'Modified' game consoles kicked off online
days before Microsoft Corp. released the
hotly anticipated Halo 2 video game for the Xbox game console, some
gamers noticed a sudden spike in the number of people being kicked off
the company's online game service.
That was no coincidence. With Halo 2 expected to entice a new batch of
users to the Xbox Live online gaming community, Microsoft says it got
tougher with people suspected of making unauthorized modifications to
Gamers who modify Xboxes usually do so either to be able to
cheat on games or use pirated copies, although some also have made
changes so they can use the Xbox for other functions, from running
Linux to playing music.
Cameron Ferroni, general manager of the Xbox software platform, says
Microsoft is not interested in suing individual users. But the company
does want to banish scofflaws from its online service, Xbox Live.
It's hard to know how many of Microsoft's 15.5 million Xbox users have
modified their game consoles, although the percentage is believed to be
Microsoft has a unique glimpse into the approximately 1 million Xbox
Live users' computers because, by virtue of signing up for the service,
users agree to let Microsoft gather certain information from their
Ferroni declined to go into specifics on how the company can check Xbox
Live users' machines for suspected modifications. He said Microsoft has
no way of checking whether players who don't use Xbox Live have
modified their machines.
Neil Smith, an intellectual property lawyer with Howard Rice in San
Francisco, said there's little legal risk in modifying a game system
for relatively benign personal use, such as making players invulnerable.
But it is important to Microsoft to prevent such cheating on Xbox Live,
where multiple players can take part in games. Ferroni said the goal is
to make sure there's a level playing field.
Smith, who has represented several video game companies, said users
face greater legal risk -- and companies have more leverage -- if a
person is modifying the system to play pirated or other unauthorized
games. That's especially true if the person is altering their system's
security codes or settings.
Microsoft says it has focused its legal efforts on those it believes
are manufacturing pirated games or mass-producing Xbox
modifications. Smith said the legality of modifying other people's
technology remains hazy.
Other technology companies have grappled with how much can be done to
their systems without their consent.
Earlier this year, Seattle-based RealNetworks caused a stir when it
said it had developed software that allows songs purchased from its
online music store to transfer to Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod by
skirting internal copy protections.
Apple, which has closely guarded control of its music player, responded
by accusing RealNetworks of adopting "the tactics and ethics of a
Other video game consoles don't seem to face as much tinkering for the
sake of piracy as the Xbox, said PJ McNealy, an analyst with American
Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 2 doesn't have as complex antipiracy measures,
he said, and Nintendo Co.'s cartridge-based games are much more
difficult to pirate than the CDs that Microsoft and Sony use
Analyst Rob Enderle said Microsoft's Xbox is also much more vulnerable
to tinkering because its popular built-in hard drive more closely
mimics a regular personal computer, whereas the other systems rely on
less familiar technology.
"The very thing that made the Xbox a rapid success is also what made it
easy to hack," Enderle said.
McNealy thinks Microsoft is right to go after those who are playing
pirated games, but he thinks Microsoft might be flattered by some of
the other homemade tweaks.
"To modify it to the umpteenth degree is simply a byproduct of the geek
culture of the hardcore gamer," McNealy said. "It should be good news
for Microsoft that there's that much demand (for Xbox) that people want
to spend so much time figuring that stuff out."