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For twenty years, the video game industry has been investing a substantial amount of money in R&D to fight piracy and counterfeit. This investment is proportional to the potential shortfall, which counts in millions. Therefore, video game consoles are the spearheads of hardware and software security. The current talk explores the history of these platforms through the evolution of defence and offence strategies. As we will see, the security features implemented by the manufacturers have become more and more elaborated, forcing the attackers to develop subtle and innovative techniques. Moreover, it is interesting to observe that the threat model has evolved from large scale piracy prevention to a model where manufacturers want to prevent hackers to take control of their console. We also highlight the advance of the gaming console industry regarding hardware and software security concepts, specifically when considering that they are mass consumption products. Finally, it is to be noticed that these concepts only appeared a few years later on other mass market devices such as smartphones and Set Top Boxes.
In this talk we will present everything you have ever wanted to know about some major game consoles architecture and their security features. In order to achieve this, we will detail both hardware and software architectures of - somehow - old and modern gaming consoles: PS1, Xbox, Xbox360 and PS3. Based on this, we will explain the reasons why some attacks have failed and why some others have succeeded.