When does protection becomes disruption?
Two recent articles, pointed out to me by a couple of colleagues, serve to highlight a flaw in the over zealous application and misuse of some DRM based content protection mechanisms; basically when does content protection become disruption?
The first article, thanks to Brian Runciman, deals with Games DRM, and describes the fallout of presenting legitimate gamers with ever more complicated DRM schemes which effectively prevents some users from enjoying their legally purchased products. It also highlights some unintended consequences of Games DRM, and concludes with the now old mantra that any good DRM solution should be transparent to legitimate users. We still live in hope!
The other article, thanks to Ian Cole, is really an alert notification a SANS newsletter about multiple vulnerabilities (e.g. buffer and integer overflows) in a critical ActiveX control within Microsoft’s DRM system. According to a Security Focus entry, this control could allow an attacker to execute malicious code on a users machine – talk about content protection becoming a threat in itself!
Conclusion: The continued perception of DRM remains that, at best, it is intrusive and potentially unsafe. This in spite of the fact that DRM is slowly and quietly becoming embedded in the fabric of more and more digital content, including streamed content (e.g. music, movies and electronic games). Oh, and this will have an even bigger impact on the pre-owned or after market for digital content as discussed in a recent post on the BCS Games Blog.