Smile for the Camera

Sunday, March 6, 2011 Posted by Corey Harrell
What's one of the new forensic artifacts a Kinect leaves on the Xbox 360 which may be beneficial to an investigation? Depending on the game or application using the Kinect, there could be photographic evidence and this evidence could be used to determine the person using Xbox, the other people in a room, or the state of a room over a period of time. The corporate environment doesn't deploy gaming systems to support the business so I won't come across the Kinect's photographic evidence until the technology has a business use for the Windows computer. The topic of this post is a little different than my usual content but there's a Kinect in my house and I wanted to find the photos or videos created by any of the Kinect games.

What is the Kinect?

The Kinect is a peripheral for the Xbox 360 and according to Microsoft it is a "controller-free gaming means full body play". The Kinect senses body movement and this movement lets people interact with the Xbox whether if it's playing a game or watching a movie. The Kinect was a Christmas present to my entire family and if you do your research on the games then it really does work as advertised. I spike volleyballs by jumping in the air, my teenager scores goals by kicking a soccer ball, and my three year old runs in place while jumping over hurdles as he races down the track. Gaming systems have come a long way since my days of playing Contra and Super Mario Brothers using a controller with two buttons and a directional pad.

The Wired article How Motion Detection Works in Xbox Kinect describes the Kinect technology including the camera that's a part of the hardware. There are a few games that make use of the camera for entertainment purposes by providing slideshows of everyone who played the games. Certain games even store the captured pictures so people can access them at a later time.

Accessing the Multimedia the Xbox Way

Kinect Adventures comes bundled with the Kinect and this is one of the games which take pictures during game play. Kinect Adventures stores the pictures on the Xbox's hard drive and people can view the photos at a later time. The game's menu is used to access any of the created photos as opposed to the Xbox menu. The photos can be uploaded to websites and services such as I uploaded a few Kinect Adventures photos to Kinectshare. The image below shows which games support Kinectshare and as you can see the Kinect Adventures game has uploaded photos (yup, that's my mug on the camera).

The pictures can be uploaded to Facebook, printed, or downloaded using Kinectshare. This is a downloaded picture with one of my sons.

Accessing the Multimedia the Post-mortem Way

An investigation may have some issues trying to use the photos or videos uploaded to Kinectshare. The first issue is Kinectshare uses the Windows Live ID associated with the Xbox live gamertag which will make it harder to access the uploaded files since the site is password protected. The second issue is the files are automatically deleted after 14 days which limits the timeframe of when the files can be accessed. Both of these issues can be avoided by directly accessing the Kinect multimedia stored on the Xbox's hard drive.

I mentioned previously I don't examine Xboxes but I was interested in the gaming photos. This post isn't intended to cover how to perform Xbox 360 examinations. If anyone is looking for this type of information there's a book called Xbox 360 Forensics published by Syngress (I came across this book while writing this post).

Right off the bat I found out that FTK imager and Encase don't display the partitions on the Xbox hard drive. A few quick Google searches not only provided me with a program to browse the hard drive but the searches also explained the folder structure. The folder structure stores content in a global area that applies to all users and content is stored in each user account's profile. The global area is located at /partition3/content/0000000000000000/TITLEID/OFFERID/ while the content in the user profiles are located at /partition3/content/PROFILEID/TITLEID/OFFERID/. The PROFILEID is the ID of the user account, the TITLEID is the name of game or application that created the folder, and the OFFERID is the type of content the folder stores. I used Kingla's Xbox 360 HDD Folder List website to determine the TITLEID and OFFERID. The picture below shows the global content for my Xbox and the Kinect games' folders are 4D5308ED (Kinect Adventures), 4D5308C9 (Kinect Sports), and 545607D3 (Dance Central).

The Kinect Adventures photos are located in the global folder 4D5308ED. There were two content folders with one for photos (OFFERID 000000001) and the other for videos (OFFERID 00090000). The videos folder didn't contain any videos of people playing the Kinect. However, there were numerous photos stored in the 000000001 folder as illustrated below.

The names of the files are based on the date and time of when they were created. It doesn't help much in my case since the Xbox's time was wrong. The files contain the Kinect Adventures photos as well as additional data. Examining the files I noticed some consistent file offsets containing data.

          * File offset 5778: name of the game and the data was K•i•n•e•c•t• •A•d•v•e•n•t•u•r•e•s
          * File offset 5914: PNG image and the image was an icon
          * File offset 22298: Same PNG image of an icon
          * File offset 49152: file name and the data was M9_0_2005_11_22_7_9_38_784
          * File offset 53328: JPG image which is the Kinect photo

I used a hex editor to copy out all of the data for the JPG image. As illustrated below the start of the JPG image is at file offset 53328.

The JPG data was copied and saved as a new file with a jpg file extension. The image was the Kinect photo showing my three year old playing Kinect Adventures while my teenager waits on the couch.

What's Next

Only certain games or applications create videos or photos with the Kinect. Kinect Adventures is one of the games that do and this game comes bundled with the Kinect. As I said before, this technology hasn't reached the corporate environment yet but I think it's only a matter of time before it does. A quick Google search provides a ton of hits of how various people adopted the Kinect technology for other uses including controlling a Windows 7 computer. posted that Microsoft is going to be releasing its own Windows based Kinect SDK in the spring amid a growing community of "Kinect hackers". This could be the beginning of this technology extending beyond gaming and research to serve other purposes more suitable for the corporate environment. Time will tell what new forensic artifacts this technology will bring and how beneficial the artifacts are to an investigation.
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  1. Lakshmi


    A nice write up and a interesting read. I am always amazed on the detail you provide in every one of your blog write-ups. You mentioned about a program to browse the XBOX hard drive, but did not provide the name of the program. What program did you use to analyze the XBOX HDD.

    Can you share it?

    Thanks again for posting,


  2. Lakshmi,

    > Can you share it?

    I wanted to document the location of the Kinect photos as opposed to the tools to use. I didn’t do my due diligence in researching the program (Xplorer360) which is why I didn't name it in my post. To be safe I used Xplorer360 with some precautions (throw away system and hardware write blocker for Xbox drive) and the program was only used to view the folder structure and copy out the Xbox files. I examined the Xbox files with Encase and a hex editor on a different computer.

    I didn't mention the tool's name since I didn’t want to point anyone to a questionable program I didn’t do my due diligence on. This was one of the reasons I mentioned the Xbox Forensics book for anyone interested in performing examinations on Xbox 360s. I assumed the book would cover the techniques and tools that could be used.

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