5-year-old hacks Xbox, becomes Microsoft 'security researcher'

The boy got in via a glitch in the password verification screen

A 5-year-old San Diego boy has been commended by Microsoft for his security skills after finding a vulnerability in the company's Xbox games console.

Kristoffer Von Hasssel's parents noticed earlier this year that he was logged into his father's Xbox Live account and playing games he was not supposed to.

He hadn't stolen his father's password. Instead, he stumbled upon a very basic vulnerability that Microsoft is said to have now fixed.

After typing an incorrect password, Kristoffer was taken to a password verification screen. There, he simply tapped the space bar a few times, hit "enter" and was let into his father's account.

The password allowed him to access not only the games but everything else on the Xbox, including a non-age-restricted YouTube account, his father, Robert Davies, said by telephone Friday.

"I was like, 'Wow, that's so cool,'" Davies said.

Despite some who insist that Kristoffer must have had help, Davies said his son indeed accessed the Xbox account on his own.

Perhaps it was in his genes: Davies is a security engineer at the San Diego offices of ServiceNow, an enterprise IT cloud services company.

Davies reported the bug to Microsoft, which fixed it right away.

Kristoffer's name is now listed among Microsoft's March list of security researchers who have disclosed vulnerabilities in its products.

"We're always listening to our customers and thank them for bringing issues to our attention," Microsoft was quoted as saying in the report.

Kristoffer received a reward of US$50, a year's subscription to Xbox Live and four games, his father said.

That's a bit less than some other bug finders receive. Microsoft launched several new bounty programs of its own last year, including one that pays up to $100,000 for "truly novel exploitation techniques."

The story was first reported by an ABC News affiliate.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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