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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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RE: ...why?
By lowsidex2 on 1/1/2011 2:43:48 PM , Rating: 2
DRM is the same and locking your front door... It keeps the honest people honest. If someone really wants in, they are going to get in, but does that stop you from locking your front door?

The same argument can be made for airport security, passwords on computers, locks on your car, combination to your locker.

It's not 100% effective but it's not 100% failure either. It limits access to those savvy enough and determined enough to break it (however I will agree its usually a pain for the legit user)


RE: ...why?
By inighthawki on 1/1/2011 6:43:36 PM , Rating: 2
There is a huge flaw in your analogies. Unlike a crack for DRM which needs to be cracked once then be widely distributed quite easily to anyone with an internet connection for free, such devices do not exist to simply "bypass a password", "unlock car doors", or "open combination locks" easily for free once one person has done it.


RE: ...why?
By Cullinaire on 1/1/2011 7:35:46 PM , Rating: 2
Nope, not really a flaw but a nitpick on your part. The reason is because "honest" (because it can also be "apathetic" or "lazy"...or sometimes truly honest too) people don't go around looking for cracks the moment they run into the DRM protection. They can be considered a significant percentage of the mobile app-using population.
Proof? Has iOS/Android failed not long after their cracks since nobody would be buying apps anymore? Haven't heard of such news.
The OP's point basically says those people (mentioned above) will be stopped at the DRM, because that would be the equivalent of them trying the door at a store that was closed for the night. If it's locked, they'll just come back the next day. But no harm in trying right?


RE: ...why?
By Motoman on 1/3/2011 10:46:51 AM , Rating: 2
Except that unauthorized people aren't supposed to go in your house. That's actually illegal - whether the door is locked or not.

DRM often causes you to not be able to use the product/service you bought in the manner in which it was intended to be used. So it could only be compared to a lock on your house door if said lock also randomly locked you, the homeowner, out too.


"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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