Silent Xbox Live anti-piracy update is affecting legit gamers

Microsoft appears to have made an epic stuff-up in the implementation of some new security measures earlier this week. Through a silent Xbox LIVE update that required no interaction on the part of the user, Microsoft updated the security challenge tables that catch out pirated discs. While this is good in the fight against piracy, once again legitimate users are experiencing issues.

Over on the official Xbox forums, there have been numerous reports of unsupported disc or dirty disc issues (specifically with Modern Warfare 3) due to this silent update, even with legitimate store-bought copies of the game:

DCxKILLINSPREEx: Xbox had a hidden update on Wednesday to help combat pirates or something. This is affecting my legitimate Modern Warfare 3 though because it can't read it. Something needs to be done.

EBomb360: Just picked up my 4th copy, and this time, my Machine won't even recognize the disc.  Meanwhile, I slide Gears of War 3 in and it works just fine.  Somebody screwed up here, fix it.

Digitaljim: My Xbox DO NOT RUN ONLY MW3, my other games run with no problem (tested 20 until today), when try to read the disc some times says Error Reading Disc Code: 03-80-00 or Disc Not Recoignized. My copy of MW3 was exchanged on the store and again my Xbox can´t read the game, tested the disc on a friend Xbox and it run with no problems, tried the copy of my friend on my Xbox and the same errors again. Tried 3 discs and my Xbox can´t read them. What's going on Microsoft????!!!!!!

According to Xbox hacker C4eva, this is due to a file called “dae.bin” being silently updated across all Xbox LIVE connected consoles. The file, which is stored in the NAND and inaccessible to end-users, contains a set of anti-piracy verification challenges that check a certain security sector on the Xbox game disc.

Burned discs cannot properly replicate the security sector of an original disc, which contains all the correct responses to these challenges. As such they only contain one or two challenges that match the current dae.bin in the firmware. When Microsoft updates the dae.bin silently, all pirated discs return a dirty/unsupported disc error as the responses on the disc do not match the challenges sent; whereas all legitimate official discs are supposed to contain all the responses and thus still work.

The updated dae.bin only affects newer games with the newer anti-piracy measures encoded into the game disc. These newer measures are included with the new XGD3 game type that recently allowed an extra gigabyte of storage on normal Xbox 360 discs (for developers to fill, of course). Modern Warfare 3 is one of these new games that use the updated dae.bin, and it appears that Microsoft in their efforts to combat piracy have not fully ensured that the challenges work on all legitimate game discs.

Despite the stuff-ups from Microsoft that inconvenience legitimate buying gamers, the new measures seem to have successfully prevented pirates from playing their burned copies of popular new titles like MW3. Furthermore, it appears as though the new dae.bin is unique to each console and could potentially be difficult to circumvent in the quest to play pirated games on the Xbox 360 again.

In the thread on the Xbox forums, Microsoft representative Mister Fitzer said that “we are currently investigating and working closely with Activision to resolve this issue.” We sure hope that Microsoft can sort this out so that paying customers can return to gaming without unwanted errors.

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