Copyright holders have been fighting against content piracy for some time and one of the weapons they use is digital rights management (DRM). DRM technology generally restricts the access and reproduction of the protected content and Google Chrome uses one called Widevine for copyright media content that is streamed through its browsers including materials from Netflix. But security researchers have found a way to bypass this. Here's what you need to know.
To put it simply, the Widevine DRM works by communicating with the content protection systems of video streaming companies like Netflix and handles key or licence exchanges to decrypt content in the Chrome browser. Security researchers from Ben-Gurion University Cyber Security Research Center (CSRC) in Israel have found a vulnerability that allows for content to be recorded as it streams through the desktop version of the browser. The researchers created a proof-of-concept of the security flaw, which you can see in the video below:
Speaking with Wired, the researchers have said the bug is simple but refused to share details about it until Google discloses it themselves (for obvious reasons). Google was notified of the bug last month but has yet to issue a patch for it.
A Google spokesperson has responded to Wired about the bug and has said the issue is not isolated to Chrome as it could affect any browser derived from Chromium, an open source project.
Firefox and Opera also use Widevine, which is owned by Google, but the security researchers that found the flaw have yet to look at whether those two browsers are vulnerable as well.
Considering the pressure Google has faced from copyright holders to clamp down on pirated content on its YouTube streaming service, it's surprising the company has yet to patch the problem. We'll wait and see if Hollywood studios and streaming services like Netflix will make a big fuss about this bug.
Australia has been a legal battleground for rights holders against piracy. Most recently, rights owners of the Dallas Buyers Club film suing internet service provider iiNet to secure details on subscribers suspected of illegally downloading the move. The rights holders lost the case late last year and gave up on appealing the decision in February.
Australia is also known to be avid pirates of the popular HBO TV Show Game of Thrones.