Apple Airport Express cracked - surprising?
The guy who broke DVD encryption and iTunes Music Store has now cracked the encryption used in Apple's Airport Express, reports Edward Felten and asks what will be Apple's reaction.
My guess is that they will grumble and issue warnings, but essentially do nothing.
I have a theory that many of today's content protection systems have been designed to be crackable. You see, the technology companies are fully well aware that a) any DRM/encryption system is vulnerable, b) it is very expensive to design a good cryptographic system, c) having DRM on their systems means that their products are not as good or consumer-friendly as they could be, and d) if they don't put in protection, then content producers will sue their asses off.
So what is the logical conclusion? Put in a half-assed and cheap cryptographic system, that offers perhaps a few weeks or months protection, just enough to keep the content providers happy. And when it gets cracked, point at the evil hackers and say "their fault, we tried to protect this stuff, but the hackers are just too brilliant", and so they cannot be held responsible. And they will continue to sell their devices happily, because the market is now bigger. And I am sure that the content producers know this fully well, too (unless they have their heads up their asses, which is of course entirely possible).
I am also convinced that this is the reason why DMCA is not thought to be that bad by the consumer electronics companies: it just means that you can keep making really cheap, not-good-for-anything protection systems, because if a blind monkey happens to crack one, RIAA and others can just sue those monkeys and anyone using that cracking scheme - and the tech companies are again safe. It's like the proverbial bowl of water Pilatus used to wash his hands.
Now what is interesting is what will happen to the companies that are now producing both content and devices (like Apple and Sony)? Can they survive this inherent rip in their business models - where the other half wants (and needs) to be open to survive in the marketplace, and the other half wants to close things down? My guess is that in the end, technology will win. After all, they are the ones making more money. And also because technology is controlled by a younger generation than content, and is willing to adapt much more quickly.
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