Seems like the US NAVY Department is very interested in foreign game consoles.
According to the recent government contract, which was filed March 26th, US Navy plan to purchase used gaming console overseas so that they may extract “significant and sensitive information from previous users”. The contract is with Obscure Technologies, whom has lead engineers who have reversed the Xbox before. You can read the full contract below.
[quote]DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY
JUSTIFICATION AND APPROVAL
FOR USE OF SOLE SOURCE
1. Contracting Activity.
NAVSUP FLC SAN DIEGO
REGIONAL CONTRACTS (CODE 200)
3985 CUMMINGS ROAD
SAN DIEGO CA 92132-4200
2. Description of the Action Being Approved.
Contract to Obscure Technologies to fund the development and delivery of computer forensic tools for analyzing network traffic and stored data created during the use of video game systems. The total amount available is $177,237.50 RDT & E underlying funds;
3. Description of Supplies/Services.
This project proposes to create the following deliverables for use by Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology (DHS S&T):
4.1 Hardware and software tools that can be used for extracting data from video game systems.
4.2 A collection of data (disk images; flash memory dumps; configuration settings) extracted from new video game systems and used game systems purchased on the secondary market.
4.3 A final report between 10 and 20 pages to include the following information:
- Detailed account of issues involved in extracting forensic data from a series of game consoles
- Technical information regarding how information can be extracted from video game systems
- Any engineering decisions that were made and why
- What work remains to be done
- Any failings of the approaches followed
4. Statutory Authority Permitting SOLE SOURCE.
Title 10USC 2304©(1) authority as implemented by FAR 6.302-1 .
5. Rational Justifying Use of Cited Statutory Authority.
This project requires the purchasing of used video game systems outside the US in a manner that is likely to result in their containing significant and sensitive information from previous users. Obscure Technologies is the only US company that appears to offer the purchasing of used computer equipment for access to the contained information as a commercial service.
Analysis of the game systems requires specific knowledge of working with the hardware of embedded systems that have significant anti-tampering technology. Obscure Technologies has substantial experience in working with such systems. Obscure Technologies has the ability to do cradle-to-grave turnkey servicing of complete hardware systems design. For mechanical integration, its facility has a small but adequate machine shop as well as a laser cutter for rapid prototyping of fixtures and jigs. For electronic assembly, the company has a full rework and assembly station for fine-pitch SMT, and maintains strategic relationships with local specialty CMs for reflow and BGA soldering. The company also has a full electronics diagnostic bench including oscilloscopes, logic analyzers, and various meters. For reverse engineering, the facility has a wet lab for etching and decapsulation, wafer probes, and a microscope for imaging, along with various firmware tools such as IDA and bus protocol analyzers for rapid interdisciplinary analysis of a system across multiple levels. Obscure Technologies has experience in this area, its lead scientist having previously reverse engineered the Microsoft XBOX.
6. Description of Efforts Made to Solicit Offers from as Many Offerors as Practicable.
Market research and discussions with industry experts found no other technically acceptable sources with the required expertise and experience for this effort.
7. Determination of Fair and Reasonable Cost.
Costs will be found to be fair and reasonable prior to issuance of contract. Labor prices encountered are similar to those that are paid to PHd researchers and Project/Program Managers.
8. Actions to Remove Barriers to Future Competition.
The results of this contract will be publicized at conferences and published in academic journals. Open source software resulting from this contract will be made freely available. Other academics will be free to build upon it.
The data that is created will be made available within the constraints of the Common Rule (45 CFR 46) governing the use of human subject data.[/quote]
Interesting and a bit terrifying if your living overseas.