Update: Microsoft has responded to the claim that Xbox 360 hard drives store credit card data of past users. You can read the statement here.

A new report suggests uncouth citizens can retrieve credit card data and other personal information from an old Xbox 360 hard drive -- even if it was re-formatted and the console restored back to factory settings.

The report comes from an ongoing study at Drexel University. Researcher Ashley Podhradsky told Kotaku that Microsoft does a good job protecting its own proprietary information on the console, but doesn't take any steps to protect user data. As part of the study, the group purchased one used Xbox 360 console, installed some hacking tools and started to root around. Soon enough they were able to retrieve some files and folders, eventually extracting the original owner's credit card information.

We've contacted Microsoft to try and find out if this is the case on all hard drives and even USB drives that have had profiles transferred onto them, and if there are any possible steps users may take to protect their data (other than chucking their devices into a volcano). With several gaming platforms and company websites falling prey to hackers over the last year, and the continual rise of digital distribution, safe online infrastructures are more important than ever to gamers today.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.