With all the fanfare of a Hollywood major motion picture, a hacker named muslix64 has claimed to have decrypted the AACS protection used in HD-DVD and Blu-Ray discs, setting off a blizzard of breathless tech media news reports.
Word of muslix64's hack first surfaced on December 18 when a trailer titled "AACS is Unbreakable" appeared on YouTube, showing the apparent decryption of an HD DVD movie, and promising more details soon.
Click the "play" button below to watch the clip:
A week later, the hacker created a thread on the Doom9 forum, and posted a link to an executable file, its source code, and an extensive FAQ.
According to multiple reports, while the software is in a rough state that only supports a handful of HD DVD titles, it does seem to bypass the AACS protection, enabling users to "backup" high-def video from those discs to a hard drive. The ability to actually playback any files saved to a hard drive, however, has yet to be reliably confirmed.
Ironically, some industry insiders may be halfway hoping that this hack does prove successful, as it would give format backers an opportunity to test some of the more advanced capabilities that are built into AACS -- including the ability to revoke compromised decryption keys via software on future titles in the event of such a hack. (See this article by Paul Sweeting at Video Business for more color on this part of the story.)
For now, this story raises more questions than it provides answers. Has the AACS actually been compromised? (We're waiting til we see actual playable files being shared online before we close the book on that one.) And if it has been compromised, can the AACS deliver on its promises of "renewability" to the studios? And finally, is Blu-ray more protected (and/or can it more easily recover) from attacks like this thanks to its two extra layers of protection? Stay tuned...