updated 07:20 pm EST, Fri November 25, 2011
Hardware rig to outsmart HDCP costs less than $250
The Secure Hardware Group at Germany's Ruhr University has cracked Intel's HDCP video copy protection system. The team used readily available hardware to build a $250 board that could penetrate Intel's video encryption mechanism and view a theoretically protected video. The hack was conducted by a professor and PhD student as part of a doctoral thesis research project in copy protection.
The researchers built a custom board using FPGA chips, including one with an HDMI port and an RS-232 serial port. The board was placed between a Blu-ray player and a TV. It was able to intercept and decrypt video, without being detected by the HDCP's protection mechanisms.
Intel's HDCP (high-bandwidth digital content protection) allows the encrypted transfer of high definition video signals between TVs and Blue-ray discs or set-top boxes. The HDCP "master key" was leaked last September, but until now, there was no known effective way for potential pirates to exploit this breach.
Although potentially embarrassing for Intel, there is not much danger that the technique would be used by pirates to illegally copy content. It's still much easier for them to grab and copy compressed high-definition content from set-tops and receivers. [via The Register]