Ramblings & ephemera

Where we are technically with DRM

From Nate Anderson’s “Hacking Digital Rights Management” (Ars Technica: 18 July 2006):

The attacks on FairPlay have been enlightening because of what they illustrate about the current state of DRM. They show, for instance, that modern DRM schemes are difficult to bypass, ignore, or strip out with a few lines of code. In contrast to older “patches” of computer software (what you would generally bypass a program’s authorization routine), the encryption on modern media files is pervasive. All of the software mentioned has still required Apple’s decoding technology to unscramble the song files; there is no simple hack that can simply strip the files clean without help, and the ciphers are complex enough to make brute-force cracks difficult.

Apple’s response has also been a reminder that cracking an encryption scheme once will no longer be enough in the networked era. Each time that its DRM has been bypassed, Apple has been able to push out updates to its customers that render the hacks useless (or at least make them more difficult to achieve).

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