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Intel confirms HDCP copy-protection crack

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Intel has confirmed Blu-ray HDCP encryption is cracked after admitting a leaked master key is the real deal.

High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) copy protection technology is designed to protect high-definition video content as it travels across digital interfaces. The technology was developed by Digital Content Protection, a subsidiary of Intel, and licensed to HDTV, set-top boxes and Blueray disk manufacturers and the like.

A leaked key, now confirmed as genuine, was published online on Tuesday via Pastebin, and quickly spread around the web. The master key creates a mechanism to strip the encryption from, for example, a HD satellite TV broadcast and a DVR, at least in theory. The availability of a master key effectively renders the key revocation feature built into HDCP impotent.

Tom Waldrop, a spokesman for Intel, confirmed that the leaked key works as advertised, although practical hacks would be hard if not impossible to achieve.

"What we have confirmed through testing is that you can derive keys for devices from this published material that do work with the keys produced by our security technology," Waldrop told FoxNews, adding: "This circumvention does appear to work."

Intel reckons that someone exploiting the hack would need to build a device that ignores HDCP copy protection, with a specialist chip. Software hacks would simply be too slow.

The chip giant is keen to reassure the entertainment industry that the situation is under control. "HDCP remains an effective component for protecting digital entertainment," Waldrop said. "It relies on these licensing agreements to ensure that implementations are done appropriately, and there are legal enforcement methods available for cases where it is done inappropriately."

The volume of HD content already available for download via torrents provides ample evidence that pirates are already available to lift content from Blueray discs. Nonetheless the circumvention of HDCP is still noteworthy for both cryptologists and the entertainment industry because it involves a break in the core technology used to protect HD content, rather than its circumvention on individual titles or discs. ®

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