Print 32 comment(s) - last by Motoman.. on Jan 4 at 1:03 PM

In yo' app catalog, cracking yo' apps!   (Source: WPCentral via YouTube)
Apparently Microsoft "ironclad" piracy protections aren't really that strong

Thus far the Windows Phone 7 platform hasn't reportedly been suffering as severely from piracy as Apple's iOS or Google's Android.  However, Microsoft may be in for a similar fate as its competitors.

In six hours, a developer advising technical blog site WPCentral was able to create an app (named "FreeMarketPlace") that downloaded any app from Microsoft's WP7 Marketplace, and removed the protections from it [video].  The cracked app could then be directly loaded on an unlocked handset, or be saved to your hard drive.

WPCentral was ardent that it would not publish details of how the hack worked, and that it only made the video as a cry to action for Microsoft.  The site comments, "We are confident Microsoft will work hard to implement a stronger DRM system, in part due to this proof-of-concept demonstration."

The site had previously laid out a plan of attack for cracking Microsoft's DRM scheme, writing that the necessary steps were to:

  • Download all the apps from the Marketplace: done (or can be done)
  • Seed those apps in a torrent for peer to peer distribution
  • Circumvent the 10 sideload app limit: done (see here)
  • Enable a disabled app: tricky, but can be done, no method to do it en masse
  • Get around code obfuscation (not mentioned by V@l€n, we'll do it for him)
  • Remove XAP security signature: needs work

That report came following the post of a white paper detailing the initial steps on the XDA site (a resource for Microsoft developers) by hacker named V@l€n.  

Keep in mind, however, without security protections properly in place, pirate programs may be unexpectedly modified to contain trojans or other malware.  

Modified apps distributed via third-party apps stores were identified this week as creating a growing Android phone botnet in China.  Thus when WP7's DRM is eventually cracked in full, beware if you're downloading pirated apps with your phone.

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RE: ...why?
By omnicronx on 12/31/2010 9:56:09 AM , Rating: 3
Personally I don't see how MS could survive in the current mobile ecosystem without it. Developers will not take the new mobile OS seriously if it is rampant with piracy from the beginning
And yes I know that all major platforms have all been cracked in one way or another, but perception is a powerful thing.

RE: ...why?
By Motoman on 12/31/2010 10:16:46 AM , Rating: 1
...and just to separate perception from fact...

The fact is that DRM has a 100% failure rate. If there's any "perception" on the part of anyone that DRM helps in any way, at all, then they are quite simply disturbed.

RE: ...why?
By jtesoro on 12/31/2010 12:13:55 PM , Rating: 2
I haven't checked recently, but I thought Assassin's Creed 2 hasn't been successfully pirated yet.

RE: ...why?
By inighthawki on 12/31/2010 2:13:49 PM , Rating: 2
If by '2' you actually mean '2' and not 'Brotherhood' then 'recently' must really be 'the last year' because Skidrow cracked that quite a while ago

RE: ...why?
By jtesoro on 1/1/2011 11:08:21 PM , Rating: 2
Just looked again, and it's actually April 2010 when the crack came out (not sure if that's what you meant by 'last year' given that it's still 2010 on your post).

In any case, it must've been one hell of a job to make the crack given my understanding of the DRM scheme.

RE: ...why?
By inighthawki on 1/1/2011 11:31:43 PM , Rating: 2
It's called exaggerating, but it has been quite a long time. 8 Months might not be a year, but it's still a long way away from "recently"

RE: ...why?
By foolsgambit11 on 12/31/2010 5:53:03 PM , Rating: 2
DRM isn't just about preventing IP infringement, it's also about deterring IP infringement, and in that sense, it's moderately effective. While many of the people here may be able to bypass DRM schemes to save themselves some money, the majority of the population would rather just shell out the cash to buy a product. This is especially true on closed/semi-closed/proprietary systems that receive regular updates or access a network (game consoles, mobile phones, etc.), where the necessary modifications may prevent future updates from being available, cut off access to services (like XBox Live), or brick the device. Even if that doesn't usually happen, the threat that it may at some point occur is enough to deter many.

RE: ...why?
By inighthawki on 12/31/2010 6:02:09 PM , Rating: 2
That is less to do with DRM and more to do with the effect of piracy. Everything you said is JUST as effective if the only protection against piracy was a serial and/or simple cd check. The difficulty involved in circumventing a DRM protection has little to do with the deterrent factor of what will happen if you do.

RE: ...why?
By omnicronx on 1/1/2011 2:30:23 PM , Rating: 1
Fact is a powerful word.

Will most DRM schemes eventually be cracked? Sure..

Will DRM detect many from the illicit activies in the first place? Yes..

Whether or not the DRM is a failure is hardly dependent on whether or not the scheme is bypassed.

Correlation != Causation
Nor are your vague inferences fact.

RE: ...why?
By Motoman on 1/1/2011 4:51:09 PM , Rating: 4
Will most DRM schemes eventually be cracked? Sure..

Not most. All. Every DRM scheme that has ever existed has been cracked. It is irrational to expect that there will ever be an "uncrackable" DRM scheme in the future. Remember what the definition of insanity is...

Will DRM detect many from the illicit activies in the first place? Yes..

Assuming you meant "deter" instead of detect...maybe. But on the other hand, what that DRM will deter people from doing is buying the product/service at all. It's a double-whammy for the producer...not only does the DRM not prevent piracy, but it does prevent some people from buying the product/service altogether.

Whether or not the DRM is a failure is hardly dependent on whether or not the scheme is bypassed.

...what? The purpose of DRM is to prevent piracy. If it doesn't prevent piracy, it's a failure. If it further deters would-be consumers from buying the product/service, it's a superfailure.

Correlation != Causation

First intelligent thing you've said all day. Strange that you think that there's any reason to point that out here and now, though...unless you fundamentally misunderstand what's going on.

Nor are your vague inferences fact.

Vague inferences? It is an irrefutable fact that 100% of all DRM schemes has been defeated...and therefore do not prevent piracy, which is what they're supposed to do. That's not vague, and it's not an inference. DRM does limit what the consumer can do with the product/service - that also is neither vague nor an inference. Same applies to the fact that some forms of DRM can preclude the legitimate consumer from properly using their legitimately-purchased product/service anyway...and to the fact that DRM does deter some would-be legitimate consumers from buying said product/service...and to the fact that the DRM will push some of those would-be legitimate consumers to using a pirated version instead - since it would cause them less grief to do so.

None of that is vague, and none of it is an inference. All of it is happening, right now. And that is a fact.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il
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