Military Grade DRM?

from the just-what-we-all-needed dept

A company that has built a type of DRM technology for software used by the Defense Department is now trying to take that same technology and hit the commercial market as well. It’s relatively expensive, so don’t expect to see it on your next music CD or copy of Microsoft Word just yet. Of course, the company likes to claim that since its technology is useful in protecting Defense Department technology, it must be useful in protecting commercial software as well. However, they leave out a few things. First, while the article doesn’t go into great detail on the technology itself, it sounds rather cumbersome to implement. That also likely means it’s fairly cumbersome to use. That might be fine in some environments, but it limits how useful this product actually would be. Second, the DRM is quite expensive to license, meaning that for any software company worried about margin, it seems unlikely to be very interesting. Third, they hype up one of the software companies using this technology by talking about how the maker of the DRM technology successfully hacked the customer’s software, saying this gave them credibility. Of course, hacking their software and preventing others from being able to do the same are two totally separate things. Fourth, the people quoted in the article completely ignore the beneficial side-effects of copied software, of which we’re reminded today by an article about the marketing function of piracy, which quotes a study showing that 80% of authorized software purchasers are influenced either by unauthorized software in some way. So, if that’s the case, it seems rather counter-productive to spend so much time and effort blocking this rather effective marketing channel, while likely pissing off your own customers as well.

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Comments on “Military Grade DRM?”

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g says:

DRM doesnt work technically.

The problem with DRM is that it is defeated before you can even start.

You cant have privacy (selected viewings), without a secret. With DRM, the client has the data (protected), and a player which has the secret needed to unlock.

But where is the player? The client has the player. The secret is in the hands of the client, so it will never be secure.

Secrets only work when the attacker can never get at them. If the player only worked remotely, this could work, because you’re only getting the output.

Sure you can copy this, but you’ll either do it at an incredibly expensive storage cost (raw or non-lossy compression of video is huge, and not economically worth it), or you’ll have to compress again and gain artifacts.

DRM is technology which was born to fail, and always will. While all security can be broken, DRM never had a chance to begin with.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: DRM doesnt work technically.

I have to disagree with this statement. Having the data and the player does not mean the client will be able to defeat the encryption system. I’ve personally witnessed at least one system that was not feasibly breakable, meaning it would be financially unfeasible. And really, the only barrier to the implementation of a truly secure system is backwards compatibility with existing hardware and government regulations.

g says:

Re: Re: DRM doesnt work technically.

What is the make and model of the system you are referring to?

I know of no systems that if you have the content, and a player, you cannot reverse engineer the solution.

Normally, reverse engineering is not even needed, as there are many players of content, and some of them will be produced in less secure ways than others, providing much easier access to the secrets.

DVDs and software work in exactly this way. Because they can play on computers, which gives access to the data needed to get the content in an unprotected fashion.

At some point the data needs to be unencrypted, and available in the format playable by a codec. If it’s software, eventually the software needs to be able to be run. If its non-played data, eventually it needs to be loaded.

Having the content and the keys means security is not feasible. This has been born out by every type of DRM so far. No one has managed to keep the content secure for very long, especially the more people there are interested in that content.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: DRM doesnt work technically.

I call bullshit here.

As others have requested provide more info regarding this “unbreakable” system. Bet you can’t.

The reality is if the data that is encrypted can be accessed in anyway whatsoever the encryption can be broken. Especially in the case of content that’s been encrypted which you own and have a device capable or decrypting it. It only takes time to figure out how the device works and then you’ve craked the encryption.

But, if you want to live in your fantasy world when this blog is posting article after article about how the latest and greatest uncrackable DRM is being cracked before it’s even released, go ahead enjoy the fantasy.

DCX2 says:

If I were the DoD...

I would tell them to NOT try to use their DRM on ANTYHING other than DoD stuff.

If you start putting this DRM onto movies, you’re going to incur the wrath of the hacker community taking that as a huge challenge. As it stands now, the people who have access to DoD material to try and crack the DRM are limited, and most of those people who can crack it are probably not interested in what the DoD has to protect.

Increasing the venue for this DRM only increases the likelihood that someone will try to crack it. Sure, DRM is not invincible, but if you minimize the pool of attackers, it stands a better chance of lasting long enough.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: If I were the DoD...

DCX2 said what I was going to.

Personally, though, I would LOVE to see the RIAA use this stuff. Not only would it make most major label music largely unusable to a lot of people and push them even faster to alternative sources (eMusic – to plug for the 15 gazillionth time – for example, offer more than enough god music – and a LOT more “name” bands than people realize – to keep almost anyone happy) but I’d give it maybe a month or two before the DRM was cracked (which of course would make the government extremely unhappy).

DRM will ultimately fail simply because 90% of the people do not want it, and will simply circumvent it whenever possible regardless of how many draconian laws the entertainment indusrty pays governments to protect it. What are the other 10% going to do, lock the other 90% up?

GoblinJuice says:

DoD != Perfect

Just because the DoD uses something, that doesn’t mean it’s any better than what’s already available.

This isn’t an attack on the military/DoD, just stating the obvious.

Oh, yeah, and… you can’t expect the civvy world to play by military rules. I’d crap myself if most Americans – God love ’em – could pass the APFT. 😉

People bitched and moaned about Sony’s cute little rootkit, which was a joke. How do you think The Masses would react if they were faced with real, hardcore, military-grade DRM?


Love the military, but… come one… let’s get real… do you want MilSpec DRM on StarCraft 2?

Anonymous Coward says:


The last time the government was involved with anything remotely useful for communication was when Irwin Jacobs developed CDMA for a small startup called Qualcomm.

FastForward to today- QCOM is a business that exists to create and market IP. In doing so, they create worldwide roadblocks for innovation and adoption of 3G and 4G networks due to licensing arrangements, patent and royalty disputes.

Whether you’re on the DRM bandwagon or not, we don’t need anything that may even smell like QCOM in 5 to 10 years.

Ultimately, this is probably what would happen.

ScaredOfTheMan says:

Are they Crazy?

Captain: General sir, someone has hacked our firewall and stolen our files

General: Well… at least, they are protected by the super duper mother of all DRM package, those files will be useless to the thief.

Captain: Well sir that may have been true, but since the company who sold it to us also sold it to Sony BMG and they used it to protect the new Britney Spears album…well… there was a global effort that broke it.

General: Damn that Britney

Anonymous Coward says:

What a joke.

What a joke. But there seems to be no shortage of upper-level managers and executives in media companies who don’t appreciate their own technical ignorance. They will ignore the true experts in the field and will buy into something like this because just because of what the salesman told them. You know what they say about a fool and his money.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

DRM might not work yet, but its goal should.

You can talk all you like about being able to use your purchase anyway you like, but mostly you just don’t want to pay anything. Its not about freedom, its about free. And you are breaking the law. The deal about stealing a car is a little over the top, but justify it however you wish, you are breaking the law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Not a bright one are you.

An better analogy than your stupid stolen car one would be this.

You own a family car, but you’re only allowed to drive it, and only at specified times of the day and only on specified roads. You may only purchase petrol from specified petrol stations and you MUST get it serviced at specified service stations.

All of this will be dictated by the car company you bought the car from and if you fail to comply with these rules a SWAT team will raid your house, beat the shit out of you, then throw you in prison for 25 years.

You’re a twat!

Cixelsid says:

Re: Re:

DRM might not work yet, but its goal should.

You can talk all you like about being able to use your purchase anyway you like, but mostly you just don’t want to pay anything. Its not about freedom, its about free. And you are breaking the law. The deal about stealing a car is a little over the top, but justify it however you wish, you are breaking the law.

In my experience, this is usually the kinda crap spewed by people who rarely actually go out and buy the type of content protected by DRM. If you had ever spent €300+ on something and then spent hours trying to get it to work because the goddamn DRM is fucking you in the ass, then you’d know what we’re talking about.

Cixelsid says:

Re: Re:

No, Randomthoughts thats where you have it completely wrong. I have money to spend and I don’t mind spending it. Especially when its to support a game or a piece of music that I really enjoyed. I reckon I spend more money on music/games/movies in one month than you do in a whole year.

And so do most of my friends and the guys that work with me in my office.

And I can tell you this, the only reason I haven’t gone out to buy a Blu-ray or an HD DVD player, is because I don’t want to support or hassle with the DRM in modern content. (Same goes for Vista actually).

DCX2 says:

Re: Re:

RandomThoughts, you’re my favorite troll, you know that? Somehow, you always have the polar opposite of what I would consider a reasonable opinion.

Of course a certain percentage of the population wants the anti-DRM movement just to avoid having to pay (perhaps because they’re too poor, perhaps because they’re without morals). Those same people wouldn’t buy music regardless of the existence of DRM, so they don’t count. They are not lost sales. They are nonexistent sales.

The other (and I would wager, larger) portion of the population does not have any qualms about paying for music. Personally, I haven’t bought music in years, on account of being unsatisfied with the RIAA. I don’t need more music, I have enough, and the new stuff that comes out is utter crap. Voting with my dollar and all that.

Also, once a single copy makes it onto the Internet, the DRM is completely, and utterly defeated. DRM is a lock; the customers (who you want to access the safe) can’t open the lock; the pirates (who you don’t want to access the safe) can open it with ease. Is this really the ideal situation?

On top of DRM causing compatibility problems.

On top of DRM’s attack on fair use.

Cixelsid says:

Case in point

I bought HL2 when it came out and spent the first 2 hours of my purchase trying to connect to a valid steam server to decrypt the contents of the content I had paid for.

Everytime I wanted to play the game I had to wait for it to talk to the steam server and validate my copy. I eventually gots so irritated with it, I downloaded the cracked version off the net and finished the game without further being irritated by Steam.

Did I do anything wrong? In my view, no. I bought the collectors edition but the pirated version played easier.

But I was pissed off that people who didn’t pay for the game got to have a better gameplaying experience than I did.

The infamous Joe says:

Random Hip-Hop thoughts.

It’s not about getting stuff for free, it’s about scarcity. Since someone brought up cars, I’ll use cars: Let’s say I invented way to perfectly replicate a car in about a minute– then I taught a decent chunk of the population how to do it. It costs nothing and the replicated car is an exact replica. The replica can even be replicated. Now that anyone can see a car they like and replicate it, without loss and without cost– who would buy cars? Why spend money on something that is easily and infinitely available for free? It cost the car sellers just as much as it would cost you to do it, but they charge a lot of money– and you can do it for free. Does that make sense?

Now, you might say, “Joe, that means people will no longer make new cars, because there’s no money in it.” and I’ll say to you that people who love cars will still make cars. People who make cars just for money will stop, and we’ll be (thankfully) without generic, poorly made cars (cars made only to make money)– the only cars will be thought out, well made, quality cars.

Even the act of making cars, now that anyone can easily replicate them, would then become something of an event.. and maybe people, when they see a car they like, after replicating it, will go to see the actual car being built live– and because not everyone can build cars live, the car builders can still make money from the live car building events. Or, perhaps some car lovers out there will buy a car from a car builder– to show support for the car maker.

Whew. That’s quite a analogy. Hope you understand now why we choose to replicate on our own instead of purchasing what someone else has replicated.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

Joe, thats a nice thought. Kind of like communism. It sounds really nice until you bring human nature and reality into the equation.

I am not a fan of the DRM that is out there, but the blame should partly go to the people who cause it. The people who download, pirate and sell content are the people who created a need for DRM.

Have companies and industries reacted in a good way with bad DRM? Of course not, but seems to me that the people who caused it either get off scott free in the blog world or are actually admired.

The infamous Joe says:

Re: Re:

I’ll thank you to no longer put words in my mouth, my random thinking friend. I didn’t say *everything* should be free, I said anything that can freely be replicated (that is, the original owner still has the item, and there is a new one, just as good as the original) then the price of that item will drop to zero. That’s how the free market, as I understand it, works. Not communism. The only way music *isn’t* free is because the RIAA and it’s ilk are forcing scarcity by having copying against the law.

Like this: The government prints money in such a way that it’s scarce and has value– if they let anyone print as much money they want, money would become worthless. The same happens to music, except instead of a nation going bankrupt, it’s a music industry that has become a bloated and obcene imitation of what it should be, and frankly, needs to go bankrupt.

DRM is just another way to force scarcity, and thus, another way to charge you and I for something that should and will be free.

Cixelsid says:

by RandomThoughts

Joe, thats a nice thought. Kind of like communism. It sounds really nice until you bring human nature and reality into the equation.

Star Trek is based on socialistic principles. So is most of Europe. We’re doing ok thank you.

I am not a fan of the DRM that is out there, but the blame should partly go to the people who cause it. The people who download, pirate and sell content are the people who created a need for DRM.

Except its not doing anything about those people. Its only inconveniencing those people who (legitimately) paid for the product.

Have companies and industries reacted in a good way with bad DRM? Of course not, but seems to me that the people who caused it either get off scott free in the blog world or are actually admired.

WTF? What people who caused what are you talking about here? I don’t get who you’re targeting with that comment.

Listen RandomThoughts, thusfar you haven’t actually given any agruments for your case. Like most shills you’ve made some vague comments about DRM being needed and implied that anybody who’s against DRM steals and promotes communism. Try and get this into your thick skull:


What we’re saying is that DRM is inefficient and by its nature (which assumes that customers are criminals and limits the ability of the customer to use his purchased content), will never ever be anything but ineffectual. And in many cases will drive people to competitive products or pirated products that are NOT crippled by DRM.

Get it now? Good. Now you give a counter argument. This is how conversation works.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

I would like to be able to get on an airplane without going through a security line. That doesn’t happen. I would like to walk out of a story without having someone check my receipt. That doesn’t happen. People that download and pirate digital content cause DRM. Justify it how you would.

Joe, attitudes like yours will in the end cause some musicians to get out of the business. You can talk all you want about things being scarce, but reality shows that this is true.

Its not about things being scarce, its about people trying to justify why they feel they should have things for free.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Joe, attitudes like yours will in the end cause some musicians to get out of the business. You can talk all you want about things being scarce, but reality shows that this is true.

RandomThoughts, this is a funny thing for you to say when we’ve already shown how artists can make more money giving away their music for free. So why would they go out of business? You seem confused.

Its not about things being scarce, its about people trying to justify why they feel they should have things for free.

Again, that’s not the case at all. People are willing to pay for value. The point is that the competitive situation will mean they won’t have to pay for the infinite goods, but will have to pay for things that are scarce. That’s just basic economics.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

Justify it as you wish, you want to sing and write your own things, feel free. Guess what, you won’t keep doing so as a profession, only as a hobby. Joe, just because someone can copy something and distribute it for free doesn’t mean the price should drop to zero. Do that long enough and guess what, talented artists will stop producing music and end up doing other things.

Sanguine Dream says:

Free or not free

I see a lot of comments here arguing about if music should or should not be free. Frankly I don’t think it should be free due to the fact that the MUSICIANS need to be compensated for their craft. The problems start when you bring in all these crazy laws, DRM methods, and royaly fees that are so high they should come with a kiss (or maybe a $20 on the nightstand) is that for the most part its not the musicians that are pushing for them, its the inudstry execs that have put themselves in the music equation.

Music would actually be a decent and reasonable price if it were just a customers paying the artists for the music. I wouldn’t mind going to a music store and buying an album if the money was being distributed fairly. But as things are right now the lion’s share of an album sale is going to the people that do the least work (executives) and mouse’s share is going to the people that do the most work (the artists) with retailers and distributors in the middle. Imagine that new album that used to cost almsot $20 after tax only costing about $10 after tax. You would be more likely to buy it right?

While the deep and thoughful arguments are nice to read this whole DRM nonsense is nothing but a simple case of a middleman that has outlived his usefulness and is grasping at any straw he can to stay in the game.

Decades ago the “industry” was the only real way for a musician to get noticed by the fans. How many small time bands could have afforded their own recording studio in 1960? Not many. The industry supplied the means to record and distribute and musician had the music. These days the musician has the music and can find means of recording and distributing that are cheaper than what the RIAA chooses to offer. Sure the RIAA could cut their rates to stay competitive with the indie studios but if they cut costs they have to cut profit and they will not let that happen.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

Mike, disagreeing with you doesn’t make someone confused, just that they don’t agree with you.

Sanguine, I wonder if the music today would be a decent and reasonable price if the industry didn’t have to compensate for piracy? Just a thought. My grocery bill is higher because stores have to hire security, my airline ticket is higher because they have to provide security, what is the effect on the average consumer?

Also, I hear a lot of people say “I don’t download” or “I don’t file share” but there are a whole lot of people that do. I don’t know how many and neither do you. You can’t say how small that number is or how many sales don’t happen because of it.

SailorRipley says:

Re: Re:

It’s getting rather difficult to believe you’re not shilling or trolling…

You use certain arguments time and again, conveniently forgetting they have been successfully countered in previous discussions (and don’t even get me started on straw men) especially since you market yourself as somebody who is knowledgeable and has a firm grasp of the subject matter, it’s quite surprising (if assuming you are not shilling/trolling) you would even use certain arguments…

I wonder if the music today would be a decent and reasonable price if the industry didn’t have to compensate for piracy? Just a thought.

Appearantly, you have to wonder*, but “we” don’t: remember the CD? and the industry’s promise to lower prices after the initial introduction? you know, way before the internet(piracy) became a problem? So let’s be very clear on this: there wouldn’t be a lower price if there was no piracy. (In fact, one could argue that if there would be a price difference, the price in a piracy free world might be higher, since the industry would have a de facto monopoly without the fear of being circumvented by piracy, so then they could set any price they want..)

As for your examples…again, it’s hard to believe (assuming you are somewhat intelligent) that you don’t realize they’re besides the point (and even just plain wrong to use)…it’s much more likely you do know and are using them anyway…which might convince the less intelligent portion of the populace, but really, can you take any joy in taking candy from babies?

So let’s start on your examples

First off, you are mixing 2 examples that are nothing alike. Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand why: you try to legitimize one with the other, trying to give them the appearance of being alike and hope by fabricating that alikeness, prevent people from questioning the faulty one (which, of your two examples, not surprisingly, is the one closest to what “the industry” is doing):

airport security benefits all the (“good”, law-abiding) customers, as letting somebody with a bomb (or whatever) on a plane would screw all the passengers (and possibly people on the ground as well), not just “the industry” (airline company). Actually one could even argue that we, the customer, are paying for an additional service (of security) with that higher airline ticket price.

However, with the grocery store example, the mentioned security (in the very, extremely vast majority of the time) is for the sole purpose of preventing people from stealing merchandise from the store, not for my (as a customer who pays for everything he acquires) security/safety.

In fact, the store having issues with (other) people stealing stuff, is not my problem at all.
It’s theirs and theirs ALONE (in contrast to it not being only the airline company’s, but also my problem if the plane I happen to be on crashes or explodes), and so the grocery store should end up paying for any measure they take, not me, who, again, does nothing illegal. In fact, I should not only not have to pay for any measure they take, I should not be inconvenienced in any way by any measure (receipt checking for example)

[Of course, I know that in reality, grocery stores do make all customers pay for their security measures, however,] just because they do does not mean it’s right or should be done.

So, in conclusion, we have:

the airline ticket example does not apply

the grocery store example does apply, very much so, the analogy is very fetching…the industry is implementing certain security measures (we won’t discuss the effectiveness of said measures) that ALL (“good”, law-abiding) customers are inconvenienced by and have to (additionally) pay for.

When I dissect your example like that, doesn’t it sound like much more like an argument against your case?

As other people have already said, in this thread and others: most, if not all, people here (and on other sites and in other discussions) do not justify, glorify or admire piracy (or stealing, if, and only if, we’re talking about physically removing a copy from a store)…

HOWEVER (this is another irrelevant point in your argumentation): even if we all would admire pirates to the point of wanting to bear their babies, that does NOT make any argument we use less, or more, valid…the same with whether some (or many) of us are arguing the case out of principle or opportunistically to defend our getting our hands (illegally) on free stuff…it does NOT change the WEIGHT, VALIDITY or ACCURACY of any argument used.

You are right that nobody (although the **MAFF**IAA** sure seem to try) can say how small the number of people sharing is and (even more difficult) how many sales don’t happen because of it. Unfortunately for you, those numbers aren’t relevant either…because:

I have read many arguments from pro-industry, pro-DRM, pro-whatever, many irrelevant, straw men, or just plainly not true, with which they try to justify whatever plan, tactic, opinion,… “the industry” has or is implementing.

But they never (although I’d welcome them to try) answer this:

Tell me, or more accurately convince me, why I (as a “good” customer, who pays for movies, music,… he wants/acquires) :

1) have to (pay or rather) finance the DRM and all other measures
2) have to be inconvenienced by DRM and all other measures
3) am limited in my fair use rights by DRM and all other measures

by “the industry” because some other people seem to be pirating and possibly are costing “the industry” some money…

oh, and btw: “if we don’t put a stop to piracy, people will stop making …, yadayadayada**” is not a valid argument, as has been proven many times, on here, on other sites and in the real world.

(And for the record, I don’t think the latter of the two assumptions in * is wrong.)

* which is quite surprising, unless of course either the assumption of shilling/trolling or that you’re somewhat intelligent/knowledgeable is wrong.

** © Seinfeld

William (profile) says:

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Copysafe PDF is now available with DRM options.

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