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High-Definition DVD Hardware Security Still an Issue

High-Definition DVD Hardware Modifications are Necessary to Implement New Security Technology, According to ABI Research

Unlike standard DVDs in which a single key can unlock all disks, an AACS-secure player key is combined with a disk key (read from the disk) to create a new content key, which is used to descramble the contents. ABI Research observed a situation that occurred within months of HD disks coming to market: a software player for the PC became compromised, as someone found the player key hidden in system memory. In the following months, over 100 content keys were published on the Internet.

“Designers of AACS contemplated such a problem and made it possible to revoke a compromised player,” says ABI Research principal analyst Steve Wilson. “The revocation feature is a significant new capability of the HD DVD content protection system, as players can be revoked by changing the disk key on new DVD releases. This key, when combined with a targeted player key, will fail to create a key that can descramble the disk contents. And in order for the new disks to work, the player needs to be updated to a new version.”

Furthermore, new watermarking techniques are being implemented that may require enhancements to high-definition DVD hardware platforms. ABI Research sees a high likelihood for the incorporation of these changes, among others. “The watermarking process tags audio content in such a way that analog copies will be rejected by the player,” adds Wilson. “Content owners could unobtrusively tag their original source material and facilitate source detection of pirated material.” Watermarking is already in use in theatre content source.

“Watermarking algorithms and techniques are not secret,” concludes Wilson. “But in order to break the watermark, they would require access to encryption keys which can be stored in protected hardware locations. Such hardware resources are becoming commonplace in consumer electronics solutions.”

ABI Research’s recent study entitled Hardware Security in the Consumer Electronics Market: The Dawn of Secure Processors, examines new processors and considers the implications for the home digital video network market. In addition to its forecasts, the study surveys the work done on the PC platform and in embedded environments, and explores key industry initiatives shaping the marketplace.

It forms part of the Consumer Video Technologies Research Service, which includes other Research Reports, Research Briefs, Market Data, ABI Insights, and Analyst Inquiry Support.

Founded in 1990 and headquartered in New York, ABI Research maintains global operations supporting annual research programs, intelligence services, and market reports in broadband and multimedia, RFID & contactless, M2M, wireless connectivity, mobile wireless, transportation, and emerging technologies. For information, visit, or call +1.516.624.2500.

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