DVD encryption hacked

After the motion picture industry spent years negotiating the encryption standard for digital video discs (DVD), a small group of Norwegian hackers recently released a program, called DeCSS, that can break the encryption on almost any DVD disk. "This is a troubling situation," said Rick Clancy, a spokesman at Sony Corporation. He said Sony is still gathering information on the purported hack and added that "Sony is of course a strong advocate of content protection".

Every DVD disk has about 400 keys on it to make the disk readable to all of the various DVD players on the market. The players, in turn, also have the 400 keys licensed and encrypted in their hardware or software playback systems. But apparently one program, the XingDVD Player, from RealNetworks subsidiary Xing Technologies, didn't have its keys adequately safeguarded. The hackers were thus able to deduce how to crack DVDs and released the DeCSS program, which will do it automatically.

Officials from RealNetworks weren't available for comment this morning.

The hackers are claiming that the DVDs only have 40-bit encryption. By contrast, Netscape 4.7, the company's most recent exportable version, has 56-bit encryption. The secure version of Internet Explorer 5.0 has 128-bit encryption.

This isn't the first DVD encryption to be broken. DVDs already have regional codes so that they can only be played on players bought in that region. This helps the movie industry distribute DVDs in the same pattern as films: premiere it in one market, then gradually release it in other markets. But movie producers often don't use the codes, and players have sprung up that can play DVDs with any of the various regional codes.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mathew Schwartz

PC World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?