TV hack bypasses HDCP

hdmi

Reader [GRitchie] wrote in with an interesting find in his new TV set: with just some minor soldering it was possible to tap into an unencrypted hi-def video stream.

HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection), used by Blu-Ray players and cable or satellite receivers, normally ensures a DRM-protected link between the device and a compatible display. Any properly-licensed device that forwards HDCP content (such as an HDMI switch box) is expected to provide encrypted output; those that don’t may get blacklisted by the system and become expensive paperweights. It’s something of an annoyance for users who feel this oversteps fair use applications such as time-shifting.

[GRitchie] found that his new TV with “InstaPort” Fast HDMI Switching didn’t perform this re-encryption step between the set’s internal switcher and the next stage in decoding. Soldering just eight wires directly from the switching chip’s output to an HDMI cable provided an unencrypted output that could then be received by a PC for later replay.

What’s not clear at this point is whether the capability is peculiar to just this one make and model, or applies to anything with the new Fast HDMI Switching. If the latter, it will be interesting to see how this plays out…nearly all of the major HDTV manufacturers are evaluating InstaPort for new sets, which would make any attempt at HDCP blacklisting awkward, to say the least.

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