Book Review – XBOX 360 Forensics

A Digital Forensic Guide to Examining Artifacts Rating ****

XBOX 360 Forensics offers a fairly in-depth introduction into the world of Games Console Forensics and the tools and techniques required to carry out investigations into Next-Generation Games Consoles.

As popular gaming platforms become more and more sophisticated, using their own operating systems and accessing the Internet for various types of transactions, the potential for illegal and malicious activity is dramatically increasing.

Bolt starts the book with a detailed description of the XBOX 360 system, the setup process and how to sign up, and connect to, the social aspects of the XBOX 360 gaming experience: XBOX Live. It is this social outlet that is the main cause of concern for the population with news reports about paedophilia and child abuse stemming from meetings organised using the mail and chat functions inbuilt into the online portal.

Bolt does not provide much information on other crimes that can be committed using the console such as malicious activity as the result of installing a secondary operating system (for example, Linux), but the emphasis of the malicious potential is made quite clear and the need for a set method of investigating consoles is prominent.

With very little documentation on the investigation of consoles available to the investigator, Bolt has provided the perfect starter guide for forensic investigation all the way from acquisition through to analysis. Rather than just provide the tools and techniques, however, Bolt takes the reader along the journey of investigation and provides a very detailed walkthrough of the baseline contents of the XBOX 360 Hard Drive, explaining the various different file types (such as PIRS, LIVE and CON files) and sector locations of valuable information.

The guide describes the use of only a few tools but within this provides an in-depth and efficient investigation method to analyse the Hard Disk Drive. The tool that takes the spotlight in the investigation, Xplorer 360, is not strictly a Forensic tool but more of a console management tool used to connect the XBOX 360 to a Computer via the network and interact with it. it is interesting that this piece of software should provide a solution to the investigator to find artifacts previously unfound by the standard Forensic tools such as Guidance Software’s EnCase and AccessData’s Forensic Toolkit Imager. A criticism of the guide is that its main focus is on the Hard Disk Drive, which, while holding some of the user information and game saves, does not contain information of the operating system or memory stack. Bolt mentions that this information is held within specific hardware inside the console itself and it would seem prudent to provide methods to investigate these artifacts, especially when the need for Live Analysis is increasing.


The book does seem quite basic throughout, providing technical details that most investigators would probably be able to figure out for themselves, however, it is an easy read and one that would prove interesting to most who do not know much about the investigation of games consoles.

Willem Knot

Book Title:   XBOX 360 Forensics

Book Subtitle:   A Digital Forensic Guide to Examining Artifacts

Author(s):   Steven Bolt (Samuel Liles – Technical Editor)

Publisher:   Syngress/Elsevier

Date of Publishing:   7th February 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1597496230

Price:   £36.99 (UK), $59.95 (USA)



Book Review – Extrusion Detection

Security Monitoring for Internal Intrusions







Rating *****

Despite being over six years old now, this book is certainly not outdated in the slightest. While most network security books and guides would focus on perimeter defence from outsider threats, Bejtlich concentrates on attacks launched within the organisation. At the time of publishing, this book was unique in its approach to defensive practices and is aimed to go hand in hand with Bejtlich’s ‘Tao of Network Security’, picking up where Tao left off and concentrating solely on defence, where Tao started from the point of view of the attacker.

First thing to notice about this book is the foreword by Marcus Ranum, which, unusual to most books, consists of an interview with the author and highlights how different Extrusion Detection is from other Network Security Guides.

The book is aimed at all those who have an intermediate to advance knowledge of network security and so should be used by those just starting out in the industry, especially as Bejtlich talks about tools and techniques that, at the time of writing, were not common practices amongst professionals. However, it holds great potential value as an addition to anyone’s security/information assurance library.

Traditionally, the main focus of network security has been about keeping the hackers and malicious users out. The book is split into three specific sections, Detecting and Controlling Intrusions, Network Security Operations and Internal Intrusions, taking the reader on a journey from the reasons to look for Extrusions through to the various types of Extrusion, such as Malicious IRC Bots. Bejtlich uses various technologies, such as Proxies and IDS/IPS, as demonstrations using commands that can easily be adapted into organizations’ own technologies.

To those specifically interested in Network Forensics, Bejtlich devotes an entire chapter to just this and discusses the links between the security practices discussed throughout the book and the forensics practices used within the chapter. Incident Response is also explained prior to Forensics. Bejtlich gives a detailed introduction to Network Forensics and describes it as being different from Digital Forensics in that it is focused on Packet Capture, using tools such as Wireshark/Ethereal. The emphasis here, however, is the Network Forensics is a valuable and crucial part in the defence of a network infrastructure both from internal and external threats.

Followers of Richard Bejtlich’s Tao security blog will instantly recognise his unique method of describing and demonstrating the various tools and techniques required to put Extrusion Detection into practice. Throughout the book there are valuable diagrams, screenshots and actual packet captures that help the reader to fully understand each point that is made, a feature that is often overlooked in many security guides.


This book is a valuable read for anyone interested, or working, in the security and forensics industry. Betjlich provides a refreshing approach to defensive methods and illuminates the potential damage of insider threats. Highly recommended as a partner guide to ‘The Tao of Network Security’, which together provide an ultimate guide to Network Security.

Reviewer Name:   Willem Knot

Book Title:   Extrusion Detection

Book Subtitle:   Security Monitoring for Internal Intrusions

Author(s):   Richard Bejtlich (Foreword by Marcus Ranum)

Publisher:   Addison-Wesley

Date of Publishing:   8th November 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0321349965

Price: £39.99 (UK), $54.99 (USA)