Feeds

Cryptography Research wants piracy speed bump on HD DVDs

The rush is on

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Cryptographic Research's senior security architect, who also mockingly refers to himself as "chief anti-pirate" is Carter Laren, and Cryptography Research is both realistic about just what it takes to stop pirates and how difficult that is, as well as optimistic that the two competing associations are set to choose its own submission as the basis for this protection system.

Cryptography Research (CR) is just a 15-man intellectual property company, but it was single handedly responsible for discovering how professional pirates use Differential Power Analysis to read encryption keys and break complex coding systems thought to be uncrackable, and has also come up with circumvention strategies. Virtually all the intellectual property around DPA is held by CR and is licensed all over the world. CR also wrote the SSL3 secure sockets layer security version for the IETF.

Put simply, DPA is a system of "listening" to power distribution on semiconductors as they read encryption keys. Circumvention comes from balancing out all power use when an encryption key is being applied so that it cannot be read just by observing which circuits are active.

If it appears to you that DPA is really about making it harder for the "professional" pirate who makes a fortune from illicit manufacture of pirated goods, rather than about stopping college kids from using P2P networks to swap files, then you'd be right.

"We would rather chase professional pirates than College students," says Laren, and this shows in his strategy to build a protection system.

What CR has built, he calls Self Protecting Digital Content or SPDC. In effect this is a form of content that is no longer passive and includes code that can execute in a specially constructed SPDC virtual machine that resides in each player.

The logic behind this approach is that so far Digital Rights Management systems have tried to both support a trust chain, a way of moving decryption keys around between devices, as well as allowing the expression of rules to decide what usage is allowed with that content.

What CR does instead is much simpler and more direct. It tries to cut off any player that has been used for mass piracy.

"When a pirate makes a copy of a film encoded as SPDC, the output file is cryptographically bound to a set of player decryption keys. So it is easy when looking at a pirated work on a peer to peer network, or any copies found on copied DVDs, to identify which player made those copies," said Laren "When the content owner sends out any further content it can contain on it a revocation of just the player that was used to make a pirated copy."

"We picture a message popping up on a screen saying something like 'Disney movies won't play on your player any more please call this number for further information.' Or perhaps 'To fix this please call Disney with your credit card,' something like that anyway.

"We know that pirates can make copies by tapping the MPEG stream with modified players, or by making a bit for bit copy of the disk, or by using an analog attack (catching the film stream on the way to the TV over aerial cabling and re-digitizing it). But using this cryptographical binding we have forensic marking visible on the copy."

The neat thing about this process is that if someone makes copies for their own use, that can be enabled. Private individuals could be allowed to make copies for other players, even for their friends, and that's no problem.

It's only when a pirated copy is discovered coming back to a content owner (presumably watching P2P sites) that a player will get revoked, and that is only effective on content made after that point, with the revocation message in it.

Security for virtualized datacentres

Next page: Related stories

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.