A computer security term, to “compromise” a computer means to break into it or crack it without authorization.
Often, however, Information Security companies are hired to compromise a computer with authorization before it is released on the market. A recent case in point is that of the just-released Xbox 360—which was delivered cloak-and-dagger style to the headquarters of Cimtek Inc. in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. The game console computer—able to do one trillion calculations a second—was rushed into a secure zone of the headquarters’ building, where Information Security employees signed nondisclosure agreements and successfully underwent criminal background checks. Their job? According to Microsoft Corporation’s executives who said they spent billions of dollars on the development of this superstar computer, they wanted Cimtek Inc. employees to check for vulnerabilities so that nothing later comes back to haunt them when the machine is released. The Xbox 360 was released in November 2005. As of May 2006, crackers had succeeded in playing copies of original game DVDs by modifying the firmware of the Xbox DVD drive.
Avery, S. Technology: Cimtek Ironing Bugs Out of Xbox 360. The Globe and Mail, May 23, 2005, p. B6.