Subject: General Tech | January 3, 2019 - 12:46 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: DRM, usb-c, usb-if
2019 is already shaping up to be an odd year as the USB Implementers Forum has proposed a way to utilize DRM for good! Instead of focusing on preventing you from displaying media in inventive ways, they seek to use it to prevent dodgy USB-C cables from releasing the magic smoke from your favourite electronic devices. They propose to include a bespoke 128-bit encryption key in the USB protocol which will only allow power to pass over a cable which can match a valid key, with the option to allow sysadmins to create their own to prevent non-approved USB devices to connect to secure systems.
The Inquirer does bring up one possible fly in the ointment, the proposed standard encompasses USB 3.0, USB 3.1, HDMI, DisplayLink and Thunderbolt; which may lead to some interesting repercussions.
"But the USB-IF working group, which represents manufacturers of products that offer the standard, aren't giving up, with plans to create an "Authentication Program" to ensure that only reliable products can be used."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Samsung Announces Its First Exynos-Branded Auto V9 Processor, Partners With Audi @ Slashdot
- Data of 2.4 Million Blur Password Manager Users Left Exposed Online @ Slashdot
- Valve data shows PC VR ownership rose steadily in 2018 @ Ars Technica
- Insiders! The good news: Windows 10 Sandbox is here for testing. Bad news: Microsoft has already broken it @ The Register
- Hackers are using Chromecasts to broadcast security risks about Chromecast @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2018 - 04:26 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: DRM, pc gaming, uwp, arxan
TorrentFreak is reporting that the software piracy group, CODEX, has broken the MSStore, UWP, EAppX, XBLive, and Arxan copy protection mechanisms protecting Zoo Tycoon Ultimate Animal Collection. Because this is the first and currently only case of an Arxan-protected title being cracked, TorrentFreak is cautious to claim that the copy protection is broken, just in case there’s a flaw in this specific title that allowed circumvention.
Image Credit: LadyOfHats via Wikipedia (Public Domain license)
That said, piracy groups are smart engineers, and DRM essentially amounts to saying, “I’m giving you all the pieces required to unlock this content, but I’m doing it in a way that you hopefully won’t figure out”. At least with most encryption, there are some components (keys and passwords) that are never public, and they are required to unlock the content. DRM doesn’t have that option, because otherwise no-one would be able to use the content it “protects”. (Then there’s also the whole “what are you spending and what are you hoping to gain by using DRM” argument that is often overlooked, because exerting control often correlates with a decline in sales, but that’s another discussion.)
Regardless, CODEX claims that this is the first time a UWP titles has been successfully pirated. It took about four months after its release, but it eventually happened.
Subject: General Tech | October 30, 2017 - 12:58 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ubisoft, origin, DRM, assassins creed origins
More powerful than a speeding Core-i5, able to crash a Ryzen 3 in a single launch process; it's not a demo, it's not a plane, it's SuperDRM! Not only will Ubisoft's new creation prevent pirates from taking over this non-pirate verison of Assassin's Creed (for a few days or so) it can also prevent people who did not invest enough money in their rigs from playing the copy they bought! This masterful scheme should ensure that only those truly worthy souls, with a machine capable of creating a virtual machine for the game and the Denuvo DRM software to run on will be able to learn the true Origins of Assassin's Creed. The Inquirer's story also points out that your GPU power does not matter, if your CPU can't handle the completely reasonable request to create and run a VM for the DRM and its sidekick, then your GPU will be stuck waiting on the bus.
You can vent your Steam here as you wait for Ubisoft to figure out how to get out of this one.
"EARLY ADOPTERS of Assassin's Creed Origins are have been quick to moan that the open world game is using excessive CPU resources, and it's thought that Ubisoft's implementation of piracy-thwarting DRM tools is to blame."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft says something more hyper than Storage Spaces is coming 'very soon' @ The Register
- Why are we disappointed with the best streaming media box on the market? @ The Register
- Artificial intelligence beats Captcha at its own game @ The Inquirer
- Harman Kardon Invoke review: Cortana isn’t too comfortable in the home yet @ Ars Technica
- Guru3D Rig of the Month - October 2017
- Win an Alienware 15 R3 laptop with Core i7 and GTX 1070 worth over £2000! @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | September 24, 2017 - 02:30 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: w3c, eff, DRM
On September 18th, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF, announced that they were leaving the World Wide Web Consortium, W3C, due to its stance on DRM, effective immediately. This was published in the form of an open letter from Cory Doctorow, which is available on the EFF’s website.
There’s several facets to the whole DRM issue. In this case, Cory Doctorow seems focused mostly on the security side of things. Creating an architecture to attach code that manipulates untrusted data is sketchy, at a time that browser vendors are limiting that attack surface by killing as many plug-ins as possible, and, in this case, a legal minefield is layered atop it due to copyright concerns. Publishers are worried about end-users moving data in ways that they don’t intend... even though every single time that content is pirated before its release date is a testament that the problem is elsewhere.
We can also get into the issue of “more control isn’t the same as more revenue” again, some other time.
As for the consequences of this action? I’m not too sure. I don’t really know how much sway the EFF had internally at the W3C. While they will still do what they do best, fight the legal side of digital freedom, it sounds like they won’t be in a position to officially guide standards anymore. This is a concern, but I’m not in a position to quantify how big.
Subject: General Tech | May 3, 2017 - 01:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: rumour, amd, VGA, DRM
DRM finally did something good for us; revealing detailed information on AMD's new GPU. In this case the DRM is a portion of the Linux kernel which interfaces with the GPU and some inquisitive minds dug through the code to find details on Vega, which will be supported by this new version of DRM.
This is still in the realms of rumour, but the source is very good as AMD would not likely enter the wrong specifications into this update. According to the specs which wccftech compiled from the code, Vega features 64 compute units, each containing 64 GCN stream processors, the 4096 SPs will be split into four Shader Engines. A little math, based on the stated performance figures of 12.5 TFLOLPS for FP32 and 25 TFLOPS for FP16 operations, the GPU should clock above 1.5GHz. There were no details on the memory frequency though as it uses HBM2 we know it will have a 2048-bit interface which could lead to some interesting performance numbers.
"Thanks to the latest Linux graphics driver update submitted by AMD we now have detailed specifications of the upcoming Radeon RX Vega GPU. The DRM, Direct Rendering Manager, update to Linux was issued yesterday and it’s the first update to date that adds comprehensive Vega feature support to Linux. No doubt in preparation for Vega’s launch which is expected to take place at the end of the month."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Former TSMC engineer indicted for trade secrets theft @ DigiTimes
- Google To Auto-Migrate Some Users To 64-bit Chrome @ Slashdot
- Windows 7 drops slightly as Windows 10 gains, but it's all a bit squibby @ The Inquirer
- Forgetful ZX Spectrum reboot firm loses control of its web domains @ The Register
- Secret FabricXpress sauce gives X-IO the edge for the edge @ The Register
- Red alert! Intel patches remote execution hole that's been hidden in biz, server chips since 2008 @ The Register
- Netgear confirms: Intel's wobbly Puma 6 in fast broadband modems is super-easy to choke out @ The Register
- NikKTech & AVM Network Upgrade EU Giveaway
Subject: Editorial | December 15, 2016 - 02:18 PM | Alex Lustenberg
Tagged: podcast, zalman, ryzen, note 7, nand, LG, instinct, hdr, DRM, doom, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #428 - 12/8/16
Join us this week as we discuss AMD ReLive, Ryzen, Zalman Keyboards, LG HDR monitors and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store (audio only)
- Google Play - Subscribe to our audio podcast directly through Google Play!
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader (audio only)
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Sebastian Peak
Program length: 1:17:34
Podcast topics of discussion:
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2016 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, DRM, doom, bethesda
Well this is an interesting news post for a couple of reasons. Personally, I dislike DRM. A lot. It’s software that reduces end-user rights, as both consumers and potentially even as members of society after copyright expires (depending on how judges, and the Librarian of Congress, interpret whether fair use or expiration will override the DMCA’s felony clauses). It’s especially annoying when you see DRM on content that was pirated prior to the official launch, because ticking off your customers and screwing with archivists will really help you if you can’t even secure your own supply chain.
As for today’s story, id Software has officially removed the Denuvo DRM package from their game. On the one hand, it’s good that AAA developers sometimes remove copy-protection after some initial launch window, to limit long-term damage. It’s not DRM-free like you would see on GOG, though, so there is still the possibility that games could artificially die in 10, 40, 100, or 400 years, even if Windows and the other, technical platforms it requires are still around.
On the other hand, because the removal of DRM aligns with DOOM being cracked, that's all the dozens of tech news sites are now reporting. Personally, I hope that this coverage increases sales, especially since the Steam Winter Sale is rumored to start in about two weeks, and DOOM has already been discounted to 50%-off before (I believe during QuakeCon). Still, you can't help but gawk at the Streisand effect as it unfolds before you.
Anywho, Steam is currently in the middle of pushing a 12 GB patch for the title at the moment. While the sites reporting on the removal of Denuvo aren’t clear, and the release notes don’t say, I’m guessing that it was rolled in with Free Update 5.
Subject: General Tech | September 28, 2016 - 06:53 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: hp, DRM
Recently, HP released a firmware update for some inkjet printers that disabled certain third-party cartridges. The claim is that the customer “is exposed to quality and potential security risks” when using counterfeit cartridges. I'm curious why HP is claiming that users shouldn't trust HP's abilities to secure their devices against attacks from malicious cartridges, but that's probably not an implication that HP considered when publishing this press release.
Also, if the intent was to inform users about counterfeit and potentially malicious cartridges, you would think that they would have provided an override method from the start. Thankfully, they are now. HP is preparing an optional firmware update that does not check cartridges. They claim that it will be available in a couple of weeks, and provide a link to where it will be hosted.
So yeah, they are doing the right thing now. Still... come on.
Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2016 - 08:42 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ea, dice, DRM, origin
GamersNexus wrote a piece that claimed Mirror's Edge: Catalyst has DRM that limits the number of hardware changes to four. According to an email from EA's press contact, it turns out that GamersNexus' article is not accurate. According to EA PR, if Origin detects five activations in a single day, the user will need to wait until 24 hours after their first activation to attempt again.
So you can change your hardware as many times as you want over the life of the game, just not more than four times in a single day, on a single account at least.
Image Credit: GamersNexus
This message didn't seem to say what they were implying it did. Turns out, it doesn't.
I decided to ask EA when I read the error message that GamersNexus posted -- the article's interpretation didn't seem right. The wording was as follows: “Too many computers have accessed this account's version of Mirror's Edge(TM) Catalyst recently. Please try again later.” It seemed very odd to me that the wording “recently” and “Please try again later” would be attached to a permanent bricking of the game.
Again, it turns out that this is not the case, unless our press contact was not up to date about this specific title. As much as I dislike DRM, being a proponent of art preservation and archival, this part of Mirror's Edge's DRM should not affect the vast majority of users. This is something that should only affect people who are literally benchmarking a half-dozen (or so) graphics cards.
In short, it sounds like this is a non-issue after all.
Subject: General Tech | May 13, 2015 - 05:06 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: mozilla, firefox, DRM
Mozilla has just released Firefox 38. With it comes the controversial Adobe Primetime DRM implementation through the W3C's Encrypted Media Extensions (EME). Or, maybe not. If you upgrade the browser through one of the default channels, the Adobe Primetime Content Decryption Module will appear in the Plugins tab of your Add-ons manager on Windows Vista or later (but it might take a few minutes after the upgrade).
Alternatively, you can use Mozilla's EME-free installer for Firefox and avoid it altogether.
I have mentioned my concerns about DRM in the past. EME does not particularly bother me, because it is just a plugin architecture, but the fundamental concept does. Simply put, copy protection does very little good and a whole lot of bad. If your movie is leaked before it is legally available in consumer's hands, as it regularly does, then what do you expect to accomplish after the fact? It takes one instance to be copied infinitely, and that often comes from the film company's own supply chain, not their customers. Moreover, it is found to reduce sales and hurt customer experience (above and beyond the valid ideological concerns).
Beyond the DRM inclusion, several new features were added. One of the more interesting ones is BroadcastChannel API. This standard allows a web application to share data between “contexts” that have the same “user agent and origin”. In other words, it must be on the same browser and using the same app (even secondary instances of it). This will allow sites to do multi-monitor split screen, which is useful for games and utilities.
WebRTC has also been upgraded with multistream and renegotiation. Even though the general public thinks of WebRTC as a webcam and voice chat standard, it actually allows arbitrary data channels. For example, “BananaBread” is a first person shooter that used WebRTC to synchronize multiplayer state. Character and projectile position is very much not webcam or audio data, but WebRTC doesn't care.