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HDCP protection cracked by Germans and $250 worth of gear

Written by Andre Yoskowitz (Google+) @ 26 Nov 2011 1:53 User comments (4)

HDCP protection cracked by Germans and $250 worth of gear High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) has been cracked by a group of computer scientists at Germany's Ruhr University.
The protection, created by Intel and used by most monitors to allow encrypted transfer of HD signals via DisplayPort, HDMI and DVI, was first "cracked" last year when the master key was leaked online but there has been little practical use for the key.

Explains Reg: "Computer scientists in the Secure Hardware Group at Germany's Ruhr University built a custom board using relatively inexpensive FPGA chips. A Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA featuring an HDMI port and a serial RS232 communication port was created and sat between a Blu-ray player and a flat screen TV, intercepting and decrypting traffic, without being detected."

Altogether, the board cost professor Tim Güneysu and PhD student Benno Lomb just $250.

Of course, the board itself is not practical for pirates who already take the content from receivers and discs.

Adds Güneysu:

Our intention was rather to investigate the fundamental security of HDCP systems and to measure the actual financial outlay for a complete knockout. The fact that we were able to achieve this in the context of a PhD thesis and using materials costing just ?200 is not a ringing endorsement of the security of the current HDCP system."

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4 user comments

126.11.2011 2:08

This has actually been possible for a while, without any special hardware or FPGA. There are numerous HDMI audio splitters that strip HDCP while splitting the signal.

226.11.2011 11:54

Should anybody be suprised anyway? Nothing is uncrackable...

Just my $0.02,


326.11.2011 14:12

...not to mention it took a year to figure this out? I'm not an engineer by any stretch of the imagination, but even I would have thought of some form of 'feedback' or 'echo' style component would have been a solution, if 'hardware only' were the only parameters you were approaching this.

It's not that I'm knocking these guys either, but it's been so long since applying this solution was an issue that I've forgotten why it was a problem... Oh, yeah, now I think I remember...

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 26 Nov 2011 @ 14:12

426.11.2011 22:44

The only real problem is that you need to rent a cablecard (you cannot buy one) to use your PC as a full quality DVR for Cable, Sat, or FiOS. But as I said, you get the signal splitter and a signal combiner, put them in series, strip the HDCP, and record the result, with no quality loss. This has been going on for years.

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