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Encryption Security

HDCP Encryption Cracked, Details Unreleased Due To DMCA 362

Posted by Hemos
from the bad-effects-of-law dept.
Lord_Pall writes: "There's a very good article on SecurityFocus about a Dutch cryptographer. He apparently has cracked the HDCP video encryption standard, but won't release the research for fear of reprisals under the DMCA." Update: 08/15 06:10 PM by J : Meanwhile, see Keith Irwin's paper which has been released despite the DMCA. Update: 08/15 07:00 PM by J : And someone else points out this old thing. Everyone who hasn't written a paper on cracking HDCP raise your hand.
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HDCP Encryption Cracked, Details Unreleased Due To DMCA

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  • If only HDCP would be allowed to run its course and find its way into the system in hardcode. CSS in DVD players was perfect - let it become commonplace, THEN crack it and distribute the solution. You can't change the encryption without obsoleting the huge installed base of players.

    Then they'll be stuck with a cracked encryption until the next generation format comes out. Of course they'll have to make that generation much better (DVD vs VHS, for example or CD vs cassette, or HD-DVD vs DVD) or nobody will convert. It's ten-plus more years of freedom, IMHO.

    Long live the cycle!
  • by camusflage (65105) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @07:19AM (#2122718)
    Charming. Now foreign nationals who visit the US are afraid to release details of weaknesses.

    Good, I say. Serves 'em right. Once something people want to steal is released with the format, then the details will come out, and people will steal it. By not quashing discussion, they might have been able to fix it while still in R&D, but by taking the I'm-putting-my-head-in-the-sand approach, they're shooting themselves in the foot.
  • by gmkeegan (160779) <gmkeeganNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @08:04AM (#2124195)
    We start to see some of the indirect effects of the DMCA. The choices for secur ity experts and developers will be to A) not publish their works, leaving them f or a more malicious hacker to discover, or B) publish, just NEVER enter the US a gain. Either way research and development as well as security and technical con ferences will start to leave US locations, favoring those countries that won't a rrest their participants.

    Other countries will leap ahead in encryption abilities, while the US rests on i ts DMCA laurels. Brings back memories of the smaller, more efficient, more reli able cars from Japan and Europe in the 60's and 70's that caught Detroit by surp rise. Took them 10 or 15 years to catch up.

    Unfortunately, as long as there is money to be had from lobbyists, there will al ways be legislative sand for our politicians to stick their heads in.

    "Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it."
  • They are so stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rknop (240417) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @07:22AM (#2124934) Homepage

    Intel spokesperson Daven Oswalt says the company has received several reports from people claiming that they have broken HDCP. But he says none have held up, and the company remains confident in the strength of the system.

    ...and yet all of these companies still think that the DMCA is good for them.

    It's amazing how on how many levels the DMCA is a bad idea. It's squelching freedom of speech, and it's preventing the companies from producing technical systems that can effectively produce total control over their customers. Of course, the free-speech-squelching part is serving the total control purpose, and since it's the executive and legal divisions of the companies that decide what the companies "want," they probably are happier that way. And that is the real tragedy-- that and the fact that they can US legislation.

    (To be fair, given the description of the attack, Intel is probably right that it still does prevent "casual copying." On the other hand, it angers me that they're trying to prevent casual (including fair use) copying, but don't mind that somebody willing to invest some money in hardware and a couple of weeks can start producing bootleg devices. Who's their real enemy here? Customers trying to exert fair use rights (and, yeah, maybe occasionally illegally copying content)? Or overseas customers producing and selling wholesale bootleg copies?)

    -Rob

    • by kcbrown (7426) <slashdot@sysexperts.com> on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @10:37AM (#2110399)
      ...and yet all of these companies still think that the DMCA is good for them.
      It is good for them.

      Look, these guys aren't after The Ultimate Unbreakable Encryption Mechanism. They're after something that will prevent the average person from gaining "unauthorized access" to their content. And as you note yourself, they aren't after the guys generating bootleg copies. They want to prevent the average person from being able to make useful copies of their content.

      Why?

      Simple: their goal is pay-per-view/use. They want to be able to rent their content out to people, and prevent said people from ever having a permanent copy. Because a permanent copy obviously defeats their ability to rent that same content to whoever has that permanent copy.

      The reason this will work is that most people (obviously) aren't technically inclined and aren't capable or even interested in cracking copy protection schemes, nor are they interested in going through the trouble of "going around" the problem (e.g., by recording to analog media). They just want to view the content.

      The Big Corporations know this. They're counting on it. But they need something like the DMCA to pull it off. Why?

      Because they know that it's fundamentally impossible to create a crackproof system. So instead of directing their energies towards that goal, they directed it towards creating the DMCA. If people are prevented by law from creating or distributing the means to crack content control systems, then companies can successfully force pay-per-view content down the throats of the people.

      The corporations also know that eventually a content control cracking mechanism will become available to the general public anyway. So when it does, they know that it can't do anybody any good if the general public can't easily get its hands on it. Why do you think they're working so hard to shut down P2P distribution mechanisms? By doing so, they successfully remove the means for the average person to get their hands on content-control cracking mechanisms and the content that would result from the use of said mechanisms.

      The corporations don't care about the rights of the people. They only care about their money. They will do everything in their power to get it. The only difference I see between them and the mafia is that the corporations use law enforcement itself as their strong arm.

    • They could always contact Ferguson and pay for the research, no? It's not like Ferguson is not well known... and they could make payment contingent upon an actual "master key".
    • To be fair, given the description of the attack, Intel is probably right that it still does prevent "casual copying." On the other hand, it angers me that they're trying to prevent casual (including fair use) copying, but don't mind that somebody willing to invest some money in hardware and a couple of weeks can start producing bootleg devices.

      Only one person needs to retrieve the master key. The master key could be used to mass-produce HDCP descramblers. After that, casual copying would be possible without buying 4 PCs and 50 displays.

  • Anonymous is good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chill (34294) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @07:19AM (#2125994) Journal
    One more reason the right to post anonymously [slashdot.org] is a good thing.
    • It wouldn't be very helpful I don't think. If they can't get the individual, they'll go after the medium. Recall what the Scientologists did to Slashdot after someone made an anonymous post they didn't like.
    • Exactly what I was thinking. He needs to post this anonymously in as many places as possible ("possible" meaning places that will protect your identity).
  • by baptiste (256004) <mike&baptiste,us> on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @07:20AM (#2125995) Homepage Journal
    I just can't help but think that as more and more people discover flaws in encryption standards that we the users lose in the end. If crackers won't release details of how they cracked an encryption standard, where's the motivation for that standard to be improved? You can say the bad press is enough, but heck - if nobody releases details, how are we to believe its true?

    There was a time when encryption was done to ensure it couldn't be broken. Now it seems like organziations are using the DMCA as a way to prop up bogus standrads that are dangerous due to their flaws (*cough*ebook*cough*)

    Its hard enough trying to explain why Dimitry should be freed. But how can you convince a legislator or govt official that the DMCA is bad for encryption without risking prosecution? Its a scary catch 22.

    Even though the Dimitry case is getting some press (Time Mag had a 2 page article - well written), I still only see proposals to slightly change the law. Not enough to allow full reverse engineering for research and the ability to expose flaws in products. Seriously - an encryption standard used to say encrypt some copyrighted work gets hacked, the victims sue showing why its such a bad encryption std and the lawyers for teh company using the bad encryption get it disqualified because its illegal to bypass encryption or copyright schemes.

    Far fetched, maybe, but I really fear we will continue to see substandard encryption schemes passed off as workable because folks are less likely to publicize flaws in them if they are tied to teh DMCA.

    Sure this may help open encryption standards, but we all know where the commerical money goes, so goes the world. Bad encryption standards used for IP materials and protected by the DMCA would soon be sold to businesses for privacy and such - exposing those businesses to serious exposure since the encryption std is probably less secure due to less folks trying to find flaws for fear of prosecution.

    Maybe we need a contest - free tshirt to the person who manages to come up with the Chicken Little 'the sky is falling' explanation for why the DMCA is bad that'll get Joe six-pack up in arms :)

    • I think a fairly straight forward explanation such as "Would you want to drive a car that hadn't been independently crash tested?" or something. The ability to test encryption schemes would be easier for the lay person to understand.
    • "I just can't help but think that as more and more people discover flaws in encryption standards that we the users lose in the end. If crackers won't release details of how they cracked an encryption standard, where's the motivation for that standard to be improved?"

      I don't know about you, but I'm hardly losing sleep knowing that anyone who breaks into my house at night can subvert the encryption on my DVDs and watch "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" even if they aren't in region 1.

      This whole DMCA nonesense affects copyright protection schemes, not all encryption. The people who lose are the content producers, not the everyday users. These same content producers are the ones who (arguably) benefit from the encryption cracks from being widespread -- remember that these encryption systems are all about trying to maximize profitability, rather than trying to maintain 100% protection at all costs.

    • I just can't help but think that as more and more people discover flaws in encryption standards that we the users lose in the end. If crackers won't release details of how they cracked an encryption standard, where's the motivation for that standard to be improved?

      The problem is that encryption simply cannot work as copy protection for mass market media. It dosn't matter how good the actual encryption is the system requires you to hand over decryption tools to everyone.

      There was a time when encryption was done to ensure it couldn't be broken.

      There is no such thing as unbreakable encryption. All it does is make it difficult to extract information. For protecting commercial or military secrets it works quite well. e.g. if you are going to attack a target in 2 days time and it would take the enemy 3 weeks to break whatever encryption you use then attempting to break the encryption is pointless.
      When it comes to protecting copyrighted works the information is valuable for nearly a century.
    • by chriscrowley (221157) <chriscrowley AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @09:48AM (#2143941)

      Newsweek has also has a very anti-DMCA article on their now hosted MSNBC website.

      http://www.msnbc.com/news/612847.asp [msnbc.com]

      Read the article and give it a "10" at the bottom so that it might show up under the MSNBC Viewer's Top 10 list and people will find out about this.

    • One could argue that the productivity gains over the last two decades that enabled the longest period of economic expansion in US history were due in a large part to the proliferation of inexpensive computer hardware, which was only possible because of Compaq's success (and victory in court) in reverse-engineering the IBM PC BIOS. If that were to happen today, Compaq would lose, cheap, competitive clones would not have appeared, the desire to connect them wouldn't have followed, and we'd have no giant public computer network, with record corporate tax returns providing lawmakers with a surplus to woo their constituents with.

      jeb.

    • Thanks to DMCA and rabid lawyers, we're creating an "underground internet" that generally ignores the law. In a scenario like this, how will anyone know which encryption standards are working and which have been compromised? We can't assume that anyone who cracks and encryption scheme is going to publish the results, but what if no one publishes anything? What happens then?

      Imagine the people who design & use encryption standards as the occupants of a castle, and the hackers are trying to use a battering ram to enter the facility. Thanks to DMCA, the walls are padded, so the people inside don't hear the pounding of a battering ram on their door. The king overruled the castle engineers who wanted a thicker door. "No need for that", says the king. "My DMCA padded walls will take care of the noise, therefore I proclaim that the hacker problem is solved!" Of course, when the door gives way, it will be quite a suprise to the occupants!

      • Thanks to DMCA and rabid lawyers, we're creating an "underground internet" that generally ignores the law.

        This may not be completely true now, but I can see it coming. Look how easily the loose network of home based BBS systems sprouted up in the 80's. At its hieght I think there were 30,000 BBS operating in the US alone. Today of course a network of single line, modem based BBS's sounds silly, but what about the wireless networks people are setting up in some of the larger cities and giving free access to anyone passing by. Is it possible using 802.* to relay from network to network ? If it is possible I can see an underground internet developing, free from government control and commercial exploitation.

      • Imagine the people who design & use encryption standards as the occupants of a castle, and the hackers are trying to use a battering ram to enter the facility. Thanks to DMCA, the walls are padded, so the people inside don't hear the pounding of a battering ram on their door. The king overruled the castle engineers who wanted a thicker door. "No need for that", says the king. "My DMCA padded walls will take care of the noise, therefore I proclaim that the hacker problem is solved!" Of course, when the door gives way, it will be quite a suprise to the occupants!

        Not only that they also expect the "walls" to protect long after battering rams have been superceded as front line weapons. The kind of "castle" they need is one of the Chyeanne mountain complex, but instead they have one built out of balsa wood.
  • Intel spokesperson Daven Oswalt says the company has received several reports from people claiming that they have broken HDCP. But he says none have held up, and the company remains confident in the strength of the system.

    Oswalt went on to say, "If anyone DOES substantiate their claims, we'll sue the pants off 'em."

    In other news, Intel will be holding a decryption contest. The winner will be presented with a fine of up to $150,000!
  • Essay by Ferguson (Score:5, Informative)

    by Apotsy (84148) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @07:39AM (#2131198)
    Here [macfergus.com] is where Ferguson explains his position.

    This is a very good essay. It does an excellent job of explaining the problem with the DMCA succinctly, and in a manner than anyone can understand. I'm going to keep this link and use it whenever I want to explain the problem with the DMCA to someone non-technical.

    • I remember reading a science-fiction short story about an engineer who invented basically a 'free energy' device. (No doubt someone will supply the details.)

      However, fearing retribution/elimination from Big Oil/Energy Corporations and Governments With Vested Interests, he did not attempt to publish or patent his discovery, although it would be for the common good of humanity.

      Instead, he incorporated obfuscated and watered-down versions of the technology into consumer products where they would result in some respectable but unobtrusive energy savings.

      He then worked to ensure that, over the years, these products became commodity items throughout the world, knowing that, with time, they would be reverse-engineered by various people, and eventually improved on until the original mechanism emerged into common knowledge and the public domain, throughout the developed and developing countries.

      Do researchers need to resort to such tactics of stealth and obfuscation in order to indirectly "publish" their results - hide bits and pieces of the solution in various unconnected publications, until someone is able to piece the fragments together ?!

      • Short story (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Sangui5 (12317)

        I don't know about that particular story, but a good one along the same lines was written by Robert Heinlein: "Let There Be Light", published along with others in "The Man Who Sold the Moon".

        In "Let There Be Light", a scientist discovers a method for building nearly 100% efficient solar panels. At first keeps it secret, and manufactures them himself. However, the oil companies file frivolous lawsuits against him, hire thugs to burn down his factory, torch his demonstration solar car, and threaten violence against his person. So finally he patents it, goes to the big papers, and gives them a big juicy story, on the condition that they also publish all of the technical details. Oh, and openly licenses it for pennies a square yard.

        It is a shame that we may have to take the same route, but getting technical details published in a big publication like the New York Times, the Washingon Post, or the Chicago Tribune would be a good way to go. Especially the New York Times. What judge would censor the "Grey Lady"? She's nearly as sacrosant as the Statue of Liberty. Joe Sixpack might not care if some IEEE or ACM publication is censored, but the New York Times is one of the most respected papers in the nation, if not worldwide.

        There's no need to hide your publication, but just make it painfully obvious that censoring the publication of these ideas is a direct affront to First Amendment rights.

  • I think you guys are all missing the main plot. The EFF just filed their brief in the Felten case in which they claim that the DMCA is chilling speech. The point of the press release is almost certainly to support the freedom of speech case by showing yet another example of DMCA censorship.

    If Ferguson says that he has broken a protocol you can be sure he has done so. The expected outcome of the DMCA case is for the censorship provisions of the act to be struck down. So Ferguson has to expect to be able to publish soon.

    The DMCA does have some interesting side effects however. Nobody can ever be sure the DRM technology they buy works, the lack of peer review and discussion means that there is a level playing field between the many peddlers of snake oil and the legit players.

    Another effect is that anybody can mount a reputation attack against any scheme.

  • by alexjohns (53323) <almuric@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @07:33AM (#2132354) Journal
    I've uncovered the secret ingredients in the Colonel's spices and McDonald's Special Sauce. I figured out where Amelia Earhart has been all these years. I know whether or not the moon landings were faked, who shot Kennedy, and how many stones there are in the Washington Monument.

    I have decrypted the secret code in the Bible, correlated it with the secret codes of the Baghavad Ghita, Talmud and Qur'an and now now the inner thoughts of all gods. I have unified field theory and quantum theory and will soon have a device that will bend all matter to my will.

    I know the secrets of teleportation, telekinesis, telepathy, and how to get women to want me. I know the secrets of every three-letter agency in government, the Psychic Friends network, and the US Postal Service.

    Unfortunately, due to the nature of the DMCA, I am unable to share my findings with others. I suppose I'll have to get on my FTL spaceship and find a more genial planet. Ta-ta!
  • It's spooky to read a document while someone is editing it. I loaded a copy of Nils's position paper. Got halfway down and found an unterminated URL. Rather than reporting it to Nils, I reloaded the document. Yup. Between the time I started reading it, and the time I got halfway through it, he'd already fixed the problem. Imagine reading a book and seeing a typo but by the time you re-read the sentence to get the real meaning, the author had found and fixed it.
    -russ
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You people are overlooking the upside of all this.

    Now we can FUD any copy restriction technology top death by claiming that we broke it, and refusing to give any details due to the threat of prosecution under DMCA!

    The question is, would this be effective enough to get the media companies to stop using it?
  • Can you say "chilling effect", boys and girls? I knew you could...
  • This is so much fun. Thanx to the DMCA you can FUD any encryption scheme by just saying that you've broken it but doesn't dare to reveal the details. Now nobody will trust HDCP, and they have no way of defending it. It's a fun way of getting back at "the man".

    Another thing: Once some other expert claims that he also has cracked HDCP, but of course can't divulge the details, Ferguson or the other guy can leak the information to the net, and "they" will have no way of knowing which of the guys who leaked it.
  • Old news (Score:3, Informative)

    by Insount (11174) <slashdot2eranNO@SPAMtromer.org> on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @10:18AM (#2137990) Homepage
    Politics aside:

    A description of a fatal weakness [cryptome.org] in HDCP's was published by Scott A. Crosby a few days after the specs was published, and was independently discovered by many others. Crosby's attack appears to have the capabilities claimed by Ferguson and has negligible computational cost (inversion of a 40x40 matrix). It requires the built-in keys of any 40 HDCP devices, but this is presumably easy to achieve in the presence of software-based HDCP implementations).

    Thus the new feature of Ferguson's attack is probably a way to extract the keys without actually hacking any device, but rather by talking to intact devices via the normal protocol. While this is interesting, HDCP should already be considered broken in light of known attacks.
  • It's not just vanity (Score:4, Informative)

    by rhincewind (302966) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @10:33AM (#2138972)
    I was actually there (at HAL) when he expressed his anger about these procedings. When asked whether 'the paper was in his tent at the moment' (talking about anonymous posting ;-) he replied being serious about not publishing.

    Imho his goal is not getting his paper published, but getting people to think about the consequences of these laws. Unfortunately, this the only way we foreigners can protect our rights abroad.

    Linked to this, in Europe a 'law' is being prepared (due Sept 3rd I believe) which forces a country to assist another country to eavesdrop (snif Internet traffic) on a user if he (she) did an illegal act in that OTHER country. To link this with a previous link (thanks for the thought), if China were to be part of such agreement, every couple with 2 or more kids could forget its privacy...

    Joost

  • I too have broken Intel Corp.'s HDCP ... and like Niels Ferguson, I must remain silent.
    • Me too, and here's where you can get it:
      http://russnelson.com/pads/pad-md5-10bd774315b84 f1 6ad2ec7296a7a9fb3.dat

      It's encrypted. It's also copyrighted. If you decrypt it, you bring down the wrath of the DMCA on yourself. So don't decrypt it.
      -russ
  • Good! (Score:5, Funny)

    by JoeShmoe (90109) <askjoeshmoe@hotmail.com> on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @07:16AM (#2138975)
    This is a Good Thing(tm)! If the details aren't released, then it's just rumor, speculation and slander against the HDCP standard!

    That means the HDCP consortium can continue on their merry way to rolling out their video solution...and then after we have all this great content available...THEN we can have someone release the information (I see Lawrence Lessig waving his hand there in the back).

    Think about it. If the Crack SDMI has come back with nothing but failure...then maybe we would all have GB of juicy full-quality (minus watermarks, ahem) songs sitting on our harddrive awaiting a simple watermark snipper.

    Thank you DMCA! Chilling research only delays the inevitable! It doesn't stop it!

    - JoeShmoe
    • Poetic justice. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Black Parrot (19622)
      Lots of us said that for the SDMI contest we should say "yeah, I can crack that" but not release any details (even if we really could crack it). Let them sweat it out.

      Now the industry is starting to get this treatment because of its own heavy-handedness. If some FUDster claims he can crack $ANTIPIRACYTECHNOLOGY but won't prove it, no one will will be able to call his bluff effectively.

      Meanwhile, full-quality bootlegs continue to pour out of Taiwan. Society has nothing but reduced rights and privileges to show for all this.
  • How to do this is already public knowledge and it's being implemented on a wide scale. Even Windows can do it (though no one knows when it will be able to do it correctlye. Look here. [ohio-state.edu]
  • If companies would invest one fourth of their legal budget in developing stronger encryption, we wouldn't need such strong laws to protect them.

    As it is, companies are being taught that 'pretty strong encryption' and 'pretty strong laws' combine for a secure solution based on a mix of technical difficulty and fear of persecution. Maybe they should take a look at the AES [nist.gov] and realize there are better, more community-oriented ways of creating secure solutions instead of creating half-assed systems and persecuting those who prove just how half-assed they are.

    Also, isn't it interesting that when it's their encryption it's 'anti-piracy' and when it's your encryption it's 'privacy'?
  • by Restil (31903)
    Boy, am I GLAD he didn't release it. Think of the harm that he could have done to the movie industry. The DMCA DOES work people, see? Now, because of the DMCA, he won't release the specs on breaking the encryption and therefore nobody will be able to produce a product that uses this encryption standard, and the movie industry will be saved.

    Of course, this won't stop people from pirating the movies. This will go on as normal, as people who are outright willing to break the law will do so anyways, and if he was able to break the encryption, so will others. But the good news is, it will be ILLEGAL according to the DMCA, so these pirates are officially BAD PEOPLE and therefore will have no effect on the Movie Industry, because they don't count. Only people who can compete count, because they actually have the opportunity of creating products legally without paying licensing fees. The world is a better place with the DMCA indeed.

    -Restil
    (This is sarcasm. moderate appropriately)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @07:28AM (#2140824)
    The Complete Document can be found here:

    http://www.macfergus.com/niels/dmca/index.html

    Very good stuff. Too bad they didn't link it in the story.
    • The Complete Document can be found here:

      http://www.macfergus.com/niels/dmca/index.h tml

      Very good stuff. Too bad they didn't link it in the story.

      Yes, this is informative. But this [macfergus.com] is helpful.

      Very good stuff. Too bad you didn't link it in your post.

  • I didn't think that anybody in another country could be prosecuted under the DMCA unless the came to America and tried to publish the information. Wasn't that the whole issue with Dmitri? Or are they referring to this guy's nationality and he already lives in America?
    • I don't know about you, but if it's my ass going to prison, I'm going to err on the side of caution. Sure, they might not go after you as long as you don't disseminate information in the US, but because of the fact Elcomsoft used a US server as part of the buying process, even though at no point did that server house any code, that was deemed sufficient to invoke jurisdiction.
    • Hint: Its called "reading the article before posting".

      The guy travels to the USA "regularly for both personal and professional reasons".

  • Ferguson's Mistake (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rknop (240417) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @07:26AM (#2140826) Homepage

    "You can be sure that somehow, somewhere, someone will duplicate my results especially because I am telling them that I have results," says Ferguson. "Someone who is braver, who has less money, and who doesn't travel to the U.S."

    This, right here, is his mistake. If, in the near future, those master keys are published, I bet a nickel that Ferguson gets hauled up for a lawsuit (or perhaps even criminal prosecution), for exactly the reasons that he states here himself. It's extremely stupid, but on the other hand, I can easiliy see an overpaid bunch of useless humanity (i.e. corporate lawyers) effectively convincing judges and law enforcement officials that Ferguson should be liable. They would be right that he probably helped along other efforts to crack the encryption doing nothing more letting people know that it was possible. Ferguson's mistake is in thinking that the dunderheads who thought that arresting Sklyarov was a good idea will let him slide after he's said this.

    The world is a cold, demon-haunted place nowadays. It sickens me to be a citizen of this country that so hypocritically prides itself on being free.

    -Rob

    • I don't think so. The matter at hand is "reasonable doubt" and I think it would be easy to produce reasonable doubt that Ferguson was the source of the master keys, especially if the protection is trivial.

      We here in the US have a stupid law that says if I flip the bits in my content then it is "encrypted" and it is illegal for you to distribute a decryption device (a bit flipper).

      However, if I find a "decrypted" copy of my content floating around the internet, all you have to do is say "look, it's just bit flipping, anyone with a basic knowledge of math could have decrypted it" and then at that point it is up to me to find something that conclusively pins it to you...like a copy of "BiTFLiPPER 1.2 by rkn0p" floating around.

      - JoeShmoe
      • I don't think so. The matter at hand is "reasonable doubt" and I think it would be easy to produce reasonable doubt that Ferguson was the source of the master keys, especially if the protection is trivial.

        IANAL, of course, but I believe that what you say here might only get him off in a criminal case. My understanding of civil law is such that all those great constitutional protections we enjoy under criminal law don't apply. E.g., "innocent until proven guilty" doesn't seem to apply, and I don't think that proof beyond a reasonable doubt applies either. Nor do I think that double jeapordy applies.

        After all, OJ was found liable for Nicole's death under a civil lawsuit, even though the criminal courts decided that they couldn't convict him beyond a reasonable doubt. Think what you will about OJ and what the criminal courts did there, I was a little... surprised to find out that civil law meant that double jeapordy and reasonable doubt were out the window in that case. And you'd better believe that the MPAA has substantially more resources (i.e. killer-lawyer hiring ability) than Ron Goldman.

        -Rob

        • that's right. the proof requirement is lower in a civil case.

          normally, the prosecution in a criminal case needs to show that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. also normally, the plaintiff in a civil case needs to show that the defendant is liable on the balance of probabilities.

          there are exceptions to both. and this only applies to anglo-american common-law countries.

          there are other things too. generally, to show criminal liability, the prosecution needs to show a criminal intent. that is, the state of mind of the accused is relevant. usually that's not the case with civil trials.

          the criminal intent requirement is probably Dmitry's biggest hope. the prosecution has to show that the accused either know or should have known that the conduct in question was illegal and wrong. his argument against would be, as a Russian citizen, he had no way to keep track of the intellectual property laws of every country in the world. he was just coding for his boss.

          unfortunately, his arrest and the publicity surrounding it makes this argument weaker for any programmers in the future, like Ferguson.

  • by Skidmarq (5462) <{scott} {at} {gicsm.org}> on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @08:50AM (#2141183) Homepage
    So just fake an infection by Sircam, and have it release the info. :)
  • Crypto-Gram (Score:4, Informative)

    by tiny69 (34486) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @09:34AM (#2141799) Homepage Journal
    The recent newsletter [counterpane.com] from Crypto-gram [counterpane.com] talks about the DMCA and brings up a few good points:

    Dmitry Sklyarov (age 27) landed in jail because the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes publishing critical research on this technology a more serious offense than publishing nuclear weapon designs. Just how did the United States of America end up with a law protecting the entertainment industry at the expense of freedom of speech?

    . . .

    There are also provisions in the DMCA to allow for security research, provisions that I and others fought hard to have included. But these provisions are being ignored, as we've seen in the DeCSS case against 2600 Magazine, the RIAA case against Ed Felten, and this arrest.

    It's a good read.
  • Did anybody else catch this little bit?

    "An experienced IT person could recover the master key in two weeks
    given four standard PCs and fifty HDCP displays,"

    I'm sure there are a couple of experienced IT people around here, and most of them probably have four PCs sitting around their homes... now we just need to scratch up FIFTY FREAKING HDCP DISPLAYS. That's a lot of hardware!
    • nothing syas they have to be in the same room, without the specifics of the hack why not assume that 50 PC's & 50 displays would work fine and that little data is tansfered between them.

      Try and verify these assumptions and start a distributed project...

  • Sounds like he should pick up a good hacker-type alias (no one ever figures out who these folks are), and post to Freenet. That's sure to boost Freenet's usage if it is only centrally released there and the alias would protect him if he ever decides to transit through an American airport lest they pull a Skylarov on him. Surely there's enough anonymity tools out there to mask his identity?
  • Addition to paper (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KeithIrwin (243301)

    I added an addendum to the fourth attack and fixed some minor typos today. The addendum essentially demonstrates the fourth attack as practical in the real world and much quicker than previously though through the use of a birthday-paradox style attack.

    Since I'm writing a reply, I'll also take a moment to mention Scott Crosby's short critique of HDCP. Roughly it's the same thing as the second part of my fourth attack. Essentially, it is correct, although he skips over the difficult issues such as the modulo 2^56 math without mentioning them. Myself and other did later show that one can do so with impunity, but it was a desire to hammer out these difficulties which was why my paper comes to the public after his rather than before. He has told me that he's now working on a more in depth paper with some other researchers. I suspect that it contains things not found in my own, although he hasn't explicitly told me as much.

    I will also say that I view Ferguson's claims of being able to recover the whole of the master key (which I don't refer to by that name in my paper, but certainly agree that it exists in the form of some 1600 56-bit values) with some skepticism. In my attack, I describe how to get all but the left-most approximately 8 bits of each. To extract the whole thing as best I can tell requires solving sets of linear equations with no division by 2 at any point. Although there are certain sets of KSVs for which that could be done, I don't know how one would expect to reliably find such. My suspicion is that he has broken the fundamental cipher (which I do not do) but overlooked the same modulo 2^56 math gotcha that Crosby initially did. I am, of course, just speculating about that, however.

    Keith
  • Duplication (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Apotsy (84148) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @07:17AM (#2143494)
    Sound like it will be easy for others to duplicate his efforts:
    "An experienced IT person could recover the master key in two weeks given four standard PCs and fifty HDCP displays," said Ferguson. "The master key allows you to recover every other key in the system and lets you decrypt [HDCP video content], impersonate a device, or create new displays and start selling HDCP compatible devices."


    [snip] ... he says it is a textbook example of a cryptographic attack.
    Even if he never releases it himself, it'll be all over the place before too long, now that it's known to be possible. He gives a pretty good hint about how to duplicate his results.
    • Ok, so here's what I'm thinking...
      Under the DMCA, it is against the law to circumvent content protection schemes? Or is it against the law to disseminate such information?

      In either case, the HDCP crack isn't being released, but 'a pretty good hint' has been given. Now, how 'good' must a 'hint' be before it violates the DMCA?

      Say the 64 bit backdoor key to some encryption scheme is found to be 83A2FA8F.. Is it a 'good hint' to tell the word that the key is probably somewhere between 83A2FA80 and 83A2FA90? How about 83A20000 and 83A2FFFF?

      We've seen DeCSS implemented in so many ways, not only machine executable but transcribable, artistic, and as a frigging Haiku even...

      What makes the publication of a crack into a 'hint'? Could I just rattle off the source code, prefixed with a 'something like' and followed by a 'maybe', and be safe from persecution? Could I draw a few easily understood diagrams? Invent my own words for 'array', 'pointer', etc..

      What if, as a 'hint', I tell only part of the implementation to one person, and part to another, and part to another?

      Remember high-school? Did your teachers ever give 'hints'? Isn't that cheating? What if an employee of a company issued and unofficial 'hint', when they depart the payroll?
      • It is the authors opinion that it would take 4PCs, and 50 devices and 2 weeks for an IT person to crack.

        (Even if it only takes 4pcs, 50 devices and 2 weeks for a genius to hack; it is meer opinion that a professional could do it.

        It isn't opinion whether the key is between "How about 83A20000 and 83A2FFFF?". Assuming you knew the key it would be fact, not speculation.

        And definitly not opinion.

        • > It isn't opinion whether the key is between "How about 83A20000 and 83A2FFFF?". Assuming you knew the key it would be fact, not speculation.

          Very well. The key is somewhere between 00000000 and FFFFFFFF.

          Now what do we do?

    • by hillct (230132) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @07:37AM (#2132514) Homepage Journal
      It will be interesting to see if once it does get out, if companies will seek to hold him responsible, even if e doesn't release it himself. I winder if the DMCA covers the eventuality of having done research which facilitates bypassing encryption. It really isn't that far to go from doing research (and finding the solution) to writing the software that actually performs the operation. Will it become a crime to do research?

      --CTH
      • I could see how the next stage would be to prosecute people who claim that they even know of a vulnerability in an encryption system.

        Just think, if the laws were strong enough, you could just go back to ROT-13, because if anyone said 'Hey! That's ROT-13! That's easy to break!" then you could send them to jail.

        Vs lbh'er ernqvat guvf, ynj rasbeprzrag jvyy neevir fubegyl. Erznva pnyz naq chg lbhe jrncba (vr, zbhfr) qbja.
      • by wiredog (43288) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @08:20AM (#2157804) Journal
        Will it become a crime to do research?

        Of course not. What, do you think some company is going to file charges and get the FBI to arrest someone from Russia just because they give a talk about their work in Vegas? Or that an industry trade group would threaten a lawsuit if a college professor tried to present a research paper? My god, people are paranoid around here! Next thing you know they'll be saying that the Big Corporations are trying to outlaw reverse engineering!

    • The master key allows you to [...] create new displays and start selling HDCP compatible devices.

      Now I may be hopelessly naive or idealistic, but wouldn't the goal of selling HDCP compatible devices permit the disclosure of the system? Or can "they" really, legally, absolutely, limit the entry of independent 3rd-party hardware manufacturers to the game?

      What if Diamond wanted to start selling HDCP displays, but didn't want to pay the $$$$ that they're probably requiring for membership in the "club"? This research could allow them to create fully functional, compliant, standards based displays.

      As long as they don't deliberately leave backdoors in their display to give end-users access to the raw digital stream (which would make the display itself a circumvention device), they should be in compliance with DMCA, right?

      And, since they developed the system after someone outside of DMCA jurisdiction (if there is such a place, truly) reverse-engineered it, there's no trade-secret violation, they've signed no NDAs, etc., so they're free to publish their spec, right?

      Or is this just a pipe dream?

      How do we get a decent-sized player like Rio to start selling DeCSS-based DVD players, publishing their spec as they go "so that other manufacturers can do the same"? :)

  • by jabber01 (225154) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @09:07AM (#2143707)
    Anonimous submissions to the papers, inside, unnamed sources and subsequent 'expert' analysis have taken down Presidents..

    Why don't people anonimously submit this sort of thing (cracks, weaknesses, bug reports) to news sources?

    Would the papers be liable for printing someone elses 'approach', without necessarily verifying it's correctness first? After all, Deep Throat wasn't named to be right, he only gave 'hints' about Watergate...

    I could see The Register, the Motley Fool, the Washington Post, or maybe just some online news source (ahem, slashdot, ahem) printing 'suggestions' from anonimous sources... And as 'reputable' guardians of Liberty (*sigh*) they would be able to claim the need to protect the identities of the submitters in order to maintain their 'professionalism', or some such...

    How about it slashdot? Set up a PO Box where people could send neat stuff without a return address..
  • Hmm... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fanatic (86657) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @08:19AM (#2143834)
    "I have found a proof of this theorem which is too long to fit in this margin." Think it actuallly exists?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...For this I have found a truly wonderful proof, but the DMCA prevents me from publishing it.
  • by UM_Maverick (16890) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @09:50AM (#2144927) Homepage
    If he wrote the paper, then I would assume that he owns the copyright on it. If he's a cryptographer, then he can apply an encryption algorithm to it. If he does that, then nobody can read it w/out breaking the encryption, and, therefore, violating the dmca...correct? Granted, we'd all have to violate the dmca to read it, but how is Intel going to see you ROT-13 something in your cubicle?
    • ROT-13? (Score:2, Funny)

      by HRbnjR (12398)

      ROT-13???

      Hell, publish it as an Adobe E-book :-)
    • This type of suggestion comes up often: if we want to piss off the jerks who use the DMCA to harass scientists and programmers, we should use the DMCA against them.

      Step 1) Violate the DMCA in some way to hurt the DMCA abusers

      Step 2) Publish the violation in a manner such that retrieval of the information would require violation of the DMCA

      AFAIK (IANAL), this appears to be a case of "in pari delicto" (see http://www.fifthdistrictcourt.com/dictionary/dict- p.htm) which basically says if both parties are committing a crime (i.e. we're both violating the DMCA), the judge may decide not to grant a remedy to either of us. The catch is that this sort of behaviour runs squarely up against the "Unclean Hands Doctrine". In a nutshell, Unclean Hands protects the courst from assisting you in the commission of a crime. In other words, you cannot turn to the court and say "Well, I'm violating the DMCA, but if you'll agree that they're violating it to discover my violation then we can throw out their results".

      BUT this then puts the onus on you to prove that Intel actually violated the DMCA, whereas there is a whole raft of ways that they can prove that you did. Intel can claim a third party provided them the document which means that they did not break the DMCA and thus you are screwed royally. As a civil suit, the evidence is admissible, even though the methods used to obtain the evidence may be in a legal grey area. Of course, you could go after the third party but at this point, you're over a barrel big time.

      Of course, this takes lawyers (of which I am not one) and thus if you're even going to get into a situation where you attempt to raise this defense, you'd better have some deep pockets to hire lawyers go up against Intel. Even if you win, you're broke (a phyrric victory if I ever heard one).

      Any real lawyers have a comment on this?

  • by thopo (315128) on Wednesday August 15, 2001 @08:28AM (#2157617)
    "An experienced IT person could recover the master key in two weeks given four standard PCs and fifty HDCP displays"

    1
    2 or 14
    4
    50

    Therefore the key is:
    12450 or
    114450 or
    12450 * 114450 = 1424902500 or
    sqrt(12450^114450).

    q.e.d.

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