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Adobe cache snafu delivers free movie downloads

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A security bug in Adobe's software means users were able to access Amazon's video streaming service without payment, Reuters reports. The flaw was a rare example of a bug that gives extra functionality to users.

In a trade-off between usability and security, Adobe technology permits the popular option of using video player verification to control how content is delivered. Using video caching software means these controls, which fail to incorporate a robust encryption scheme, might be circumvented. Although Amazon insists its movies can't be pirated, tests by Reuters suggest otherwise.

Using Replay Media Catcher software from Applian Technologies, the news agency was able to download video content from Amazon. Other unnamed sites that use Adobe's technology to deliver media content were also found to be vulnerable.

Amazon's video on demand service allows a preview of the first two minutes of TV shows or films. The technology behind the service means that the full content of a movie file starts to be streamed even before a user pays, to improve download speed and so that a user can start to view content after he or she pays without interruption.

In normal use, streamed content is paused after two minutes by server software that instructs video player software to pause. The use of video caching software reportedly circumvents this restriction.

The full version of Applian's Replay Media Catcher software costs $40, but demo versions allow punters to watch three-quarters of professionally recorded media streamed online and everything available through YouTube.

"Adobe's (stream) is not really encrypted," Applian chief exec Bill Dettering told Reuters. "One of the downfalls with how they have architected the software is that people can capture the streams. I fully expect them to do something more robust in the near future." ®

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