Earlier this week a group by the name of notHALT publicly leaked the November 2014 version of the Xbox One Software Development Kit. Since then, everyone has been ecstatic thinking of different possibilities and working to find the next big thing for the Xbox One modding scene. Including a member of our own community, Chr0m3 x MoDz! Since the leak of the Xbox One SDK, Chr0m3 has been sharing the information that he has found from his own research with the SDK, which looks pretty promising for the software side of Xbox One modding. Much of this information is to do with the XVD container used on the Xbox One. According to various different posts by persons knowledgeable in this field, becoming one with the XVD's is definitely the way to go once you've acquired the SDK. After seeing the positive effects of our fellow Se7enSins members post, we decided to reach out to him for an interview which lead us to get some great insight on what we might see in the future.
To start off the interview, I asked Chr0m3 what his opinion was regarding the timing of the SDK publicly leaking. In response, he said "I'd say right on time, I guess. I mean other people have had the SDK's for ages, but everyone was a bit worried about legal problems." He continued to explain "considering what happened with DaE and the XU group. I wanted it public but didn't want to deal with the consequences." It's fair to understand that many were worried that if they leaked the SDK, there would no doubt be legal repercussions. As we continued to talk, I asked Chr0m3 to indulge us with why he decided to post the information he had found regarding the Xbox One's XVD file format. Chr0m3 went on to tell me that he hopes "people will be able to figure out how to mount the Xbox One system files on a windows PC to then gain access to the system files and start researching them." He explained that "in theory, mounting the Xbox One system files should allow us to basically run an Xbox One OS on a windows PC and then possibly mount games. XVD is just a container basically like NTFS but hashed and encrypted so it should be able to be mounted on windows with the correct knowledge."
Of course, no one can really say for sure what usable things will come to fruition because of this leak. With that being said, I still thought that it would be important to get his opinion on whether or not he thought it would be possible for a software exploit to surface through continued research. He said that he's "not too sure on that." This probably being that for the Xbox 360 Console, the King Kong exploit lead to the console being modified from inside an exploited game. He continued to say "if we can mount system files on windows we can then extract them from their containers and research them for possible exploits." When asked about his personal opinion on this specific matter, he said "I wouldn't hold your breath as I said Xbox 360 had a software exploit and since then they sandbox the games. So pretty much even if you found an exploitable game it isn't going to be able to write to the HV or anything as it doesn't have system access. HV could be anything on Xbox One but in short it's the piece of code with the highest privileges it will need to be edited before any unsigned code happens. But because the games are [sand-boxed], have fun writing to the HV from a game. I wasn't around when the King Kong exploit was out but I believe it allowed you to boot in to Linux. But as I have said. Mounting system files is a big factor in finding out if anything like that is possible." It's more than safe to say that Microsoft made sure something like that wouldn't slip through their fingers again.
[Xbox 360 "King Kong" exploit being demonstrated]
A lot of people may still be wondering how far exactly we'll get with the SDK being leaked since the Xbox One definitely has better security than its predecessor. Chr0m3 continued to comment from what he has seen "I think the Xbox One is extremely secure. I mean it must be if they had the thought to put Dev and Retail in one box. It's all changed with a sand box id and a cert. Even XDK's are [sand-boxed] so they only work on certain titles." However, don't let this crush the bit of hope that we gained not so long ago. Chr0m3 compared the current situation to an observation of his about Forza 3 and Forza 4. He said "I mean look at Forza for example Forza 3 could only be modded on JTAG / RGH, but Forza 4 can be modded with just ISO." In other words, it may still be possible after all, we just have to keep working together.
Currently the Xbox 360 scene is a lot different than other modding scenes, meaning that there are a lot of people exploiting the console for monetary purposes only. There is not a lot of helpful sharing that goes on. I felt it necessary to ask Chr0m3 if he thought that the same would happen for the Xbox One. We might not all want to say it, but there are a lot of us who definitely wouldn't want the Xbox One scene to turn into an "information for money" type of place. Chr0m3 went on to say "there is always the chance of that but it depends on supply and demand or how easy / hard things are. If a software exploit comes out for example then it's free and easy to mod your console so more people would do it and the community would be less “tight ***” to say but if you pay for an RGH or JTAG and pay for things like live then you are going to want money." Even though this chance exists for a monetary based scene, Chr0m3 and many like him are still willing to help progress Xbox One modding further.
Before we finished off our conversation, I wanted to ask Chr0m3 if he would continue to share information with the community or if he would stop. Sharing information in this type of community, especially at this beginning stage is nothing far from crucial. I wholeheartedly agreed with Chr0m3 when he said "this is a group project and we need as many people sharing information as we can get." He also said that "I'm happy to share whatever I have. If it's safe to share, I will share it yes. I will only share if I actually see people trying and sharing as well."
Chr0m3 also wanted to give a shout out to his friend Mojobojo for helping him understand a lot of this information over the time that he's known him.
If you've yet to read about the Xbox One SDK leaking, you can read about it here and if you'd like to dive into the Xbox One SDK modding talks, try starting here. I'd also like to give a special thanks to my fellow Writer, Monopolyman for helping me with some formatting woes and of course, Chr0m3 x MoDz for giving us a chance to speak with him. Feel free to comment on the interview below!