Intel has confirmed that a High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) master key leaked recently is valid, but the company says the potential for misuse is limited.
On Monday an anonymous user posted
what he claimed to be a "HDCP MASTER KEY" along with usage instructions on Pastebin, a service used to share code and text snippets.
HDCP is a technology developed by Intel to protect high definition content while traveling from the source to display devices.
The specification relies on proprietary encryption algorithms and supports different types of interfaces, including the popular DVI and HDMI.
HDCP-capable devices must have keys used for decryption embedded in their chips and hardware manufacturers license the technology under strict conditions.
The main advantage is that if a device is compromised, its key can be revoked, which will prevent it from working with future content.
Meanwhile, a master key like the one used by Intel, can be used to generate an endless supply of device keys and cannot be blocked in a similar way.
Intel spokesman Tom Waldrop confirmed to CNET News
yesterday, that the alledged HDCP master key leaked on Pastebin is valid.
"We can use it to generate valid device keys that do interoperate with the (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) protocol
," he said.
However, he stressed that this doesn't affect the current HDCP licensees or protected content in any major way, since implementing the technology is very costly.
And even if some manufacturer with the necessary resources would actually do it, distributing the rogue devices on a significant scale would be hard, with laws like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in place.
"We believe that this technology will remain effective
," Waldrop concluded. Still, the news is likely to make the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) a little bit uneasy, giving its plans to use the technology to deliver movies that are still playing in theaters to home consumers.