I gave a talk this morning at RSA 2008 on “Designing and Attacking DRM” (pdf of slides). It was pretty wide-ranging, covering everything from how to design good DRM to the latest comparison of Blu-ray protection, AACS vs. BD+. Those interested in the latter should see the last few slides, especially with news that AACS MKBv7 (appearing on retail discs later this month) has already been broken by Slysoft.
The timeline slide (page 25) is an attempt to capture the history of when discs were released into an unbroken environment or not. You want the line to be mostly green, with a few brief red segments here and there. AACS so far has had the inverse, where it is a long red line with a brief segment of green (a couple weeks in the past year and a half).
I also introduced two variables for characterizing the long-term success of a DRM system, L and T. That is, how long each update survives before being hacked (L), and how frequently updates appear (T).
In the case of AACS, L has been extremely short (if you discard the initial 8-month adoption period). Out of three updates, two have been broken before they were widely-available and one was broken a few weeks after release.
Additionally, T has been extremely long for AACS. Throwing out the initial year it took to get the first MKB update (v3), they’ve been following an approximate schedule of one every 6 months. That is much too long in a software player environment. I don’t know any vendor of a popular win32 game that would expect it to remain uncracked for 6 months, for example.
Of course, people in glass houses should not throw rocks. As someone who had a part in developing BD+, I am biased toward thinking a different approach than mere broadcast encryption is the only thing that has a chance of success in this rough world. The first BD+ discs were cracked in mid-March, and it remains to be seen how effective future updates will be. Unfortunately, I can’t comment on any details here. We’ll just have to watch and see how things work out the rest of this year.
2008 will prove whether a widely deployed scheme based on software protection is ultimately better or equivalent to the AACS approach. I have a high degree of confidence it will survive in the long run, both with longer L and shorter T than the alternative.