Intel confirmed to CNET yesterday that code posted anonymously to the Internet earlier this week is the secret master key to the HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) protocol. Intel created HDCP to be used for ensuring that only authorized devices are playing copyright-protected video and audio, and it licenses the technology to hardware manufacturers.
The master key is supposed to be secret from everyone except a central HDCP authority. It is used to generate keys in consumer devices for encrypting the data and verifying that the devices have HDCP licenses. From this master key you can compute all the sub keys.
“Those keys let you play god for this protocol,” said Paul Kocher, president of Cryptography Research. “It’s only a matter of time before someone produces a device that captures high-definition content” and allows people to play and record movies at will. Kocher predicted that within three to five years such a product would hit the market. “We will see people in China building TV sets that aren’t properly licensed (for HDCP) and don’t work the way the protocol is supposed to work,” he said.
So we’ll likely see a high-tech version of a “DVD Video Decoder (MacroVision remover)” soon.