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Defeating Cactus Data Shield


My friend called me and was he pissed or what! He had just bought a Phil Collins’ Testify album, but the album failed to play in his car player (A factory player in an Opel van). When he inserted the disc the player started from track 3 and when he pressed NEXT the player jumped to track 1. so he called me to get rid of the copy protection. It turned out to be slightly complicated.


Cactus Data Shield data session


I inserted the disc to my PC and it appereared as Catctus Data Shield protected. On the disc is a PLAYER.EXE which will play the CD with crappy 48kbps compressed very low quality sound. Phil Collins is bad and Collins with 48kbps is even worse ;) !There is also a VERSION.TXT identifying the protection as Cactus Data Shield:

CDS200.0.4
3.0 build 16a

Midbartech.com - the author of CDS protection.


The software tested


I started working on the disc, using my Samsung SD-612 DVD-ROM and Plextor 1210 writer. I used several softwares and these were the results. You can download all of these softwares from the software section.


Feurio! was able to sort the illegal TOC, but was unable to recover a couple of errors on the disc. This happened with both drives.

BlindWrite read the disc without any problems, but the rip had audible skips. Only tried with Plextor.

Alcohol 120% jammed on a read error possibly at the very same location as Feurio!. This happened with both drives.

CloneCD's audio profile copied the disc and removed the protection in the process. Unfortunately the resulted copy had at least one audible skip.

Exact Audio Copy was the best of the pack. Unfortunately Plextor wen’t crazy with the illegal TOC, since EAC doesn’t resort it like Feurio! does. However, with Samsung and EAC combo I got almost perfect results. EAC’s secure mode did a lot of error corrections during the ripping process and in the end it reported 2 sync errors and suspicious positions (See the picture). EAC has a neat function which allows you to listen those suspicious positions whether they are ok. I did and there were no audible problems.


Conclusions


The illegal TOCs are not a problem - software can sort it out and rebuild. But the real problem are the errors that Cactus Data Shield discs contain. They need a good software with good error correction routines and naturally a good CD-R drive. But unfortunately good ripping software at the moment doesn’t have features for handling illegal TOCs.

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Written by: Lasse Penttinen
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