Cheap-as-chips kit smashes Intel's HD video encryption

German boffins crack HDCP with $200 gear


German boffins have pulled off a successful attack on HDCP copy protection – using cheap hardware and a lot of clever coding.

Intel's HDCP (high-bandwidth digital content protection) allows the encrypted transfer of high definition video signals via DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort and other connectors and between TVs and Blue-ray discs or set-top boxes. The HDCP master key was leaked last year but there was no easy way to exploit this.

Rather than trying to design a customised chip (both expensive and complicated), 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. The rig, which cost little over $200, was built by professor Tim Güneysu and PhD student Benno Lomb, as part of a research project in copy protection.

Although the exercise shows that HDCP is vulnerable to practical attacks the whole exercise is of little interest to pirates, who can more easily tap compressed high-definition content from receivers rather than faffing about with uncompressed HDCP streams whether or not they are strongly encrypted.

"Our intention was rather to investigate the fundamental security of HDCP systems and to measure the actual financial outlay for a complete knockout," Güneysu explained, H Security reports. "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." ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • It's primed and full of fuel, the James Webb Space Telescope is ready to be packed up prior to launch

    Fingers crossed the telescope will finally take to space on 22 December

    Engineers have finished pumping the James Webb Space Telescope with fuel, and are now preparing to carefully place the folded instrument inside the top of a rocket, expected to blast off later this month.

    “Propellant tanks were filled separately with 79.5 [liters] of dinitrogen tetroxide oxidiser and 159 [liters of] hydrazine,” the European Space Agency confirmed on Monday. “Oxidiser improves the burn efficiency of the hydrazine fuel.” The fuelling process took ten days and finished on 3 December.

    All eyes are on the JWST as it enters the last leg of its journey to space; astronomers have been waiting for this moment since development for the world’s largest space telescope began in 1996.

    Continue reading
  • China to upgrade mainstream RISC-V chips every six months

    Home-baked silicon is the way forward

    China is gut punching Moore's Law and the roughly one-year cadence for major chip releases adopted by the Intel, AMD, Nvidia and others.

    The government-backed Chinese Academy of Sciences, which is developing open-source RISC-V performance processor, says it will release major design upgrades every six months. CAS is hoping that the accelerated release of chip designs will build up momentum and support for its open-source project.

    RISC-V is based on an open-source instruction architecture, and is royalty free, meaning companies can adopt designs without paying licensing fees.

    Continue reading
  • The SEC is investigating whistleblower claims that Tesla was reckless as its solar panels go up in smoke

    Tens of thousands of homeowners and hundreds of businesses were at risk, lawsuit claims

    The Securities and Exchange Commission has launched an investigation into whether Tesla failed to tell investors and customers about the fire risks of its faulty solar panels.

    Whistleblower and ex-employee, Steven Henkes, accused the company of flouting safety issues in a complaint with the SEC in 2019. He filed a freedom of information request to regulators and asked to see records relating to the case in September, earlier this year. An SEC official declined to hand over documents, and confirmed its probe into the company is still in progress.

    “We have confirmed with Division of Enforcement staff that the investigation from which you seek records is still active and ongoing," a letter from the SEC said in a reply to Henkes’ request, according to Reuters. Active SEC complaints and investigations are typically confidential. “The SEC does not comment on the existence or nonexistence of a possible investigation,” a spokesperson from the regulatory agency told The Register.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021