Intel is investigating how the master key for its anti-piracy HDCP protocol was exposed on the Internet.
Intel is investigating how a master key for the High-bandwidth
Digital Content Protection (HDCP) protocol used to protect digital content made
its way to the Internet.
Developed by Intel, the HDCP protocol is used to protect video and
audio content as it is transmitted between devices such as Blu-ray
players and high-definition televisions and to verify the device receiving the
content is licensed to do so.
The master key is used to generate keys meant for consumer
devices. On Sept. 14, it
that a secret master key for HDCP had been posted on
the Internet. Intel confirmed the key was legitimate Sept. 16.
"We're investigating how it might have been obtained, how someone might
have determined it," Intel spokesperson Tom Waldrop told eWEEK.
Anyone who knows the master key can generate keys, which "destroys both
of the security properties that HDCP is supposed to provide," blogged
, director of the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton
"HDCP encryption is no longer effective because an eavesdropper who
sees the initial handshake can use keygen to determine the parties' private
keys, thereby allowing the eavesdropper to determine the encryption key that
protects the communication," Felten wrote. "HDCP no longer guarantees
that participating devices are licensed, because a maker of unlicensed devices
can use keygen to create mathematically correct public/private key pairs."
Waldrop said that for someone to use the device keys, "they also
would have to find a way to design those into some kind of hardware."
"Build a box, make a chip that implements it ... for all practical
purposes that's what would have to be done in most cases that can be conceived
of, and those things aren't trivial," the spokesperson said.
Waldrop added that the company will pursue legal action if need be to
protect its intellectual property.
"Should someone use this published information to create a
circumvention device, there are definitely enforcement actions that could be
taken. ... We would avail ourselves of the legal remedies as appropriate at our
choice," he said.