HDTV Code Crack Is Real, Intel Confirms
HDTV Code Crack Is Real, Intel
By Jeremy A. Kaplan
Published September 16, 2010
A tiny portion of the HDCP code released online
Tuesday, which Intel confirmed was indeed a "master key" for HD content. But to
use it, a pirate would need to manufacture a silicon chip, not simply write a
piece of software.
Much to the chagrin of the entertainment industry, the encryption
that protects most high-definition video content has officially been cracked, an
Intel spokesman told FoxNews.com. But don't expect illegal hardware to flood the
market anytime soon, he said.
Worries swirled about the future of high-definition devices such as
TVs and Blu-ray players, following rumors Tuesday that the copy protection
technology keeping all that content safe may have been cracked.
Intel confirmed Thursday to
FoxNews.com that the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) -- the digital
rights management software
that governs every device that plays high-def content -- had in fact been
"It does appear to be a master key," said Tom Waldrop, a spokesman
for Intel, which developed and oversees the HDCP technology.
"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," he told FoxNews.com. In other words, "this
circumvention does appear to work," Waldrop said.
Blu-ray players, set-top boxes, and many high-definition displays, HDCP prevents
the copying of audio and video content as it travels across the cables that connect HD devices.
It's required to send a video across the thin, flat HDMI cables that link most
new flat-panel TVs to gaming systems, Blu-ray players, or whatever.
The hack unlocks protected content by providing a "master key,"
which could be used to strip that encryption from, say, the link between your
cable box and your DVR. Without those restrictions, a nefarious user could make
unlimited copies -- rendering the copy-protection software useless.
build new devices that bypass the license fees Intel charges for the
content -- and ignore the content restrictions that HDCP sets in place. However,
Intel doesn't think piracy will suddenly increase, Waldrop told
"For someone to use this information to unlock anything, they would
have to implement it in silicon -- make a computer chip," he told FoxNews.com.
And after making a chip, someone would have to build it into a device, either on
an individual basis or on a production line. And Intel just doesn't see that
"It would be a lot of work and a lot of expense to do that,"
Waldrop said. Nevertheless, the risk exists that pirates in countries less
respectful of copyright law could take on that expense, releasing Blu-ray
players and televisions that bypass the licensing fees and knock a chunk off
"We will use the appropriate remedies to address the issue, where
we choose to," Waldrop said.
Despite the release of the crack, he remains confident that the
encryption technology is still sound, and remains the best way to keep content
"HDCP remains an effective component for protecting digital
entertainment. 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
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