Palladium -- trivially weak in hw but "secure in software"?? (Re: palladium presentation - anyone going?)

Tal Garfinkel talg at
Tue Oct 22 15:18:10 PDT 2002

> Software-based attacks are redistributable.  Once I write a program
> that hacks a computer, I can give that program to anyone to use.  I
> can even give it to everyone, and then anyone could use it.  The
> expertise necessary can be abstracted away into a program even my
> mother could use.
> Hardware-based attacks cannot be redistributed.  If I figure out how
> to hack my system, I can post instructions on the web but it still
> requires technical competence on your end if you want to hack your
> system too.
> While this doesn't help a whole lot for a DRM goal (once you get the
> non-DRM version of the media data, you can redistribute it all you
> want).

I think this assumption may be incorrect. In order for content providers
to "win" the DRM fight it seems like they need to address two issues. 

First, put up a big enough barrier for most users that circumventing
access controls is infeasible, or simply not worth it.

Second, put up a big enough barrier for most users that gaining access to
copies of media with the access controls removed is either infeasible,
or simply not worth it.

I believe tamper resistant hardware solves the first problem, even if,
as Adam conjectures, all that is required to access media protected by
Palladium is a $50 kit (which remember, you can't obtain legally) and
some hardware hacking. This seems to rule out well over %99 of the 
media consuming public. 

The problem of obstructing the distribution of media is really a different
topic. I think that solving this problem is easier than most folks 
think.  Again, you don't have to totally stop it P2P, or that kid in the
shopping mall selling copied CD's. All you have to do is put up big
enough technical and legal barriers that the general public would rather
just pay for the media.

While it may be the case that Palladium is not a serious barrier to
the average CS graduate student, Cypherpunk, or even the home user who
has a modicum of hardware clue, I don't think this will kill it as an
effective technology for supporting DRM, assuming that the software
cannot be broken.


The Cryptography Mailing List
Unsubscribe by sending "unsubscribe cryptography" to majordomo at

More information about the cypherpunks-legacy mailing list