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Saturday, December 3, 2011

A German Cracked Intel’s HDCP

Chipzilla’s HDCP, which is actually its copy protection tool used for video and audio, was recently cracked by some German expert in order to prove that there are vulnerabilities in its encryption. All it took was a bit of time and a bit of money spent for tools.


Professor Tim Güneysu from Germany announced bad news for the industry, as HDCP is the system used in almost every HDMI or DVI compatible TV or PC monitor. It appeared that all it took the expert was an instrument worth 200 Euro to make. Since Intel’s scheme was to deliver content from such secure source as a Blu-ray player to the monitor, the content has to travel along Intel’s protected system. However, a central piece of the encryption code was leaked on the Internet a year ago, and that’s when Dr. Ing. Tim Güneysu from Ruhr-Universität Bochum decided to test the strength of the giant’s encryption. The expert guessed that the implications of the leak in question could have gone beyond the industry and led to problems for a lot of areas and businesses where security is vital, including the military and other institutions.

The expert claimed that the encryption is currently tapped into between the media source and its destination, after which it sends it to another place. Professor Tim Güneysu managed to tap the HDCP encrypted information streams. He deciphered the streams and then successfully sent the digital content to some unprotected monitor through a corresponding HDMI 1.3-compatible receiver. This turned out to be not that difficult or expensive. All he needed was a commercial ATLYS board produced by the company Digilent, featuring a Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA. This item had the necessary HDMI interfaces, as well as a serial RS232 port for communication.

Professor Tim Güneysu is going to show off his results at Intel’s cracking during the ReConFig 2011 that will take place in Cancun, Mexico next week. Meanwhile, the giant has upgraded its HDCP to version 2.0, which is most likely let it not to suffer from the discovered problem (only if it were not backward comparable with earlier editions). The industry experts admit that Dr. Ing. Tim Güneysu making HDCP 2.0 backwards compatible will only mean that the vulnerability will be around for ages, or for several years, at the very least. 

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