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    The online gaming industry suffered another security setback as Microsoft’s popular online gaming service, Xbox Live, was reported to have experienced a high-profile hacking incident.

    On 29 December 2007, Halo 3 star gamer Colin Fogel found himself logged out of his Xbox Live account one minute, then completely barred from it the next. According to Fogel, this is the third time he fell victim to a hacking incident, considering his popularity in the gaming industry.

    He rose to fame after showcasing how a Halo 3 player can shoot and kill himself using his own sniper rifle. He was awarded a special piece of in-game Recon armor by Bungie Studios, makers of Halo 3.

    Very lucrative as it may seem, there’s more than Fogel’s prized Recon armor that can be hoarded from his account. Xbox Live accounts typically contain critical user information such as credit card numbers, MSN and Hotmail credentials, and home addresses. This is reminiscent of previous online game thefts usually targeted at avid gamers, looting precious gaming data that has an equivalent monetary value.

    While other online games are plagued with malware and spyware info-stealers, Xbox Live seems to be more vulnerable to social engineering tactics of hackers—and they are taking pride by bragging it in online forums. These hackers take the guise of legitimate Xbox Live users and manage to solicit information from support employees. Now, that’s one gaping hole Microsoft has to plug soon.

    Fresh from the frenzy of determining which gaming console topped the holiday sales, Microsoft and other manufacturers should start focusing on this kind of security issue. The multi-billion dollar gaming industry may soon find its followers losing it out not only in the virtual world, but being bled financially as well.

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