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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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If you don't like DRM.
By dark matter on 1/1/2011 12:54:29 PM , Rating: 2
Then do you leave your front door unlocked? Do you leave your car unlocked? Both can be broken into by a determined thief. After all, a lock only keeps out the honest.

Of course you don't. You put up with inconvenience of using an Alarm, when they don't stop you getting robbed. However, they do deter the casual thief.

And this is what DRM intends to do. If you don't like companies using DRM, then I expect you not to use an alarm or have a lock on your door or car. It's only fair.

RE: If you don't like DRM.
By Taft12 on 1/1/2011 10:03:54 PM , Rating: 2
Your analogy fails to take into account the hassle DRM creates for paying customers. In many cases the official product is INFERIOR to a pirated version. Case in point, PC games that require an active internet connection to play single-player mode. I'll take the DRM-free option please.

RE: If you don't like DRM.
By Bateluer on 1/2/2011 1:03:10 PM , Rating: 2
If your analogy was accurate, my house would only allow me entry 3 times. On the 4th time, I'd have to call MasterLock, navigate an automated phone system to confirm my identity, then wait a few days while they dispatched a rent-a-cop security technician to open the door for me.

RE: If you don't like DRM.
By adiposity on 1/3/2011 8:42:25 PM , Rating: 2
Then do you leave your front door unlocked? Do you leave your car unlocked? Both can be broken into by a determined thief. After all, a lock only keeps out the honest.

A personal lock is more analogous to having a password for your on-line account. Only you are meant to get in, and the password (to a certain extent) ensures this.

The electronic keys they give you at a hotel might better be compared to DRM. You are allowed limited access to a room, but that access can be revoked at any time. Also, you may get unlucky and "your" key doesn't work. While the hotel owner also wants to prevent theft, the electronic key allows him to control the length of the client's stay. Obviously, this analogy is imperfect, but is closer to DRM.

Therefore, whether I lock my house door has nothing to do with whether I agree with DRM. I lock my door to secure personal property, but I use DRM to control distribution of data, while simultaneously, deliberately allowing limited use of that data. It's the second part that makes DRM an issue: as a vendor you don't want consumers to have difficultly accessing a product they have paid for.

Unfortunately these analogies fail to deal with the fact that electronic piracy is largely invisible to the vendor and may not even be detrimental, while leaving hotel rooms unlocked is definitely not good for business.

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
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