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Nokia pledges to pursue N-Gage crack creators

DeCSS all over again

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Nokia today vowed to "aggressively pursue" the people behind the successful attempt to crack its N-Gage handheld console-cum-phone's copy protection mechanism.

A Nokia spokesman told The Register the company had already begun working with ISPs and law enforcement agencies to track down the perpetrators.

He also said the company would attempt to shut down web sites posting the crack software - a move reminiscent of the movie industry's pursuit a few years back of anyone hosting the DeCSS DVD cracking code.

"We are treating this very seriously," he said. "As soon as we saw these claims posted on the Internet, we started to investigate."

As we reported earlier, the crack has been implemented in an application which when loaded onto an N-Gage or another Symbian-based Series 60 handset will detect encrypted games stored in the root directory of a memory card, decrypt the files onto the card then add the game in the handset's application launcher.

The system already appears to have been used to crack games with the intention of posting the unencrypted files on the Internet. It is claimed that encrypted games can be copied off game cards to the handset's internal memory then back to a memory card using standard Symbian file management tools.

How the copy protection mechanism was cracked isn't known. The Nokia spokesman said the company's system was proprietary, but presumably documentation and tools exist to allow game developers to create the encrypted content files they will transfer to game cards.

The spokesman denied that the development of the crack might be an 'inside job', either within a game developer or even Nokia itself, suggesting instead that the work had been done by an individual "with enough time, skill and intent" to break through the copy protection by brute force.

Skill is one thing, but as far as time goes, it has taken only a month from the console's release to the public for the code to be cracked. The Nokia spokesman admitted that the company had "expected this to happen" - which begs the question why, like the DVD Content Scrambling System, the copy protection developers didn't come up with something stronger in the first place.

Nokia is committed to strengthening its copy protection system going forward, the spokesman said. He also noted that future N-Gage releases are more likely to take advantage of platform-specific features that will make cracked games either impossible to play on other Series 60 devices, or at least play with a very poor user experience.

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