Vista DRM Cracked Already?

A Romanian-born programmer claims to have developed code that can bypass the Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology in Windows Vista. Writing in his blog, Alex Ionescu said that for over a year, he's been working on a method of getting around Vista's signed driver requirements and that he's recently succeeded.

As you might know, Vista requires that all drivers be digitally signed so that they can be properly authenticated to the OS. The 64-bit version of Vista requires what Microsoft calls Kernel Mode Code Signing (KMCS) in order to load kernel-mode drivers.

Vista also includes a technology called Protect Media Path (PMP), which essentially is a way to enable secure playback of "next-generation premium content," such as high-definition DVDs. The idea behind PMP is to prohibit access to unencrypted premium content to prevent the user from making copies that aren't approved by the content publisher. In order to facilitate trusted interoperability with premium content, any components placed into the PMP must be digitally signed for use with PMP.

Ionescu said that his code does not load any unsigned drivers and that he uses a special boot flag when starting Vista. He intends to release sample code that partially demonstrates his discoveries, but he won't release code that bypasses Vista DRM out of fear of being prosecuted under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

"Later this week I will release some safe, generic, proof of concept code that targets what I believe is a flaw in the Code Integrity/Driver Signing model.... Because this code will require an initial reboot \[of the operating system\] Microsoft does not consider it to be a flaw from a security standpoint. And because \[the code I intend to release is\] so generic, it has absolutely nothing to do with DRM or PMP. That being said, I'm sure someone with knowledge of the PMP implementation might be able to use this as a very smart building block of the entire code that would be required \[to bypass PMP and DRM\]," Ionescu wrote.

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