Hacker Unlocks Microsoft's DRM

Underlying the attack on Microsoft's Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology is the belief among members of the multimedia underground that they should have the ability to back up copyrighted media files that they have purchased in the event of a primary system malfunction. Microsoft, however, may see this as an open door to pirates and unlimited P2P sharing.

A member of the Doom9 Forum known only as "Divine Tao" claims to have defeated Microsoft's Digital Rights Management (DRM) platform for securing the distribution of digital media files over the Internet. According to other Forum members who have already downloaded it, the new utility program for PCs running Windows XP and Vista not only works wonderfully but can even run on Microsoft's Zune player.

Divine Tao's exploitation of a chink in Microsoft's armor merely represents the latest clash between the software giant and members of the multimedia underground who believe they have the right to store archival copies of the copyrighted multimedia files they purchase in the event that their hard disks ever crash.

However, the same technology can also be used to illegally copy and distribute copyrighted programs for free. That potential for piracy is of grave concern to multimedia content vendors who depend on Microsoft's DRM platform to ensure that only those who pay for the privilege can download the multimedia files they offer.

Undermining Confidence

Though it is always dismaying when an attack occurs, the cracking of Microsoft's DRM platform is hardly the end of the world, according to one long-time Microsoft observer.

"Security overall is an ongoing battle and no one can ever declare total victory or relax their vigilance," Yankee Group research fellow Laura DiDio explained. In terms of their numbers and the time they can devote, there are more hackers than a security team even as large as Microsoft's can deal with, she continued.

"It's just a fact of 21st century computer life, because nothing is hack-proof," said DiDio. "Microsoft just has to address the issue as fast as they can."

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