At a dinner party recently, I found myself discussing the difficulties 
of DRM (and software that is intended to implement it) with a rather 
intense and inquisitive woman who was very knowledgeable about what 
such software is supposed to do, but simultaneously very innocent of 
the broad experience of such things that security people have had.  
She was eager to learn, and asked me to summarize what I said to her 
in an email. So I did.... 

And it turns out that she is an executive in a small company which is 
now considering the development of a DRM product.  I just got email
from her boss (the CEO) offering to hire me, for a day or two 
anyway, as a consultant.  If I understand correctly, my job as
consultant will be to make a case to their board about what hurdles 
of technology and credibility that small company will find in its 
path if it pursues this course.

So now I need to go from "Dinner party conversation" mode to
"consultant" mode and that means I need to be able to cite specific
examples and if possible, research for the generalities I explained 
over dinner.  I'll be combing Schneier's blog and using Google to 
fill in details of examples I've already cited to get ready for 
this, but any help that folks could throw me to help illustrate 
and demonstrate my points (the paragraphs below) will be much

I explained to her that the typical experience of "monitored" or
"protected" software (software modified for DRM enforcement) is that
some guy in a randomly selected nation far outside the jurisdiction 
of your laws, using widely available tools like debuggers and hex 
editors, makes a "cracked" copy and distributes it widely, and 
that current efforts in the field seem more focused on legislation 
and international prosecutions than on software technology.  Software-
only solutions, aside from those involving a "Trusted Computing Module"
(which their proposed project does not - She seemed unaware of both 
the Trusted Computing Platform and the controversy over it) are no
longer considered credible.  I cited the example of DeCSS, whose 
crack of players for DRM'd movies used techniques generally 
applicable to any form of DRM'd software. 

I explained that in the worst case, such software works by making 
unacceptable compromises of security or autonomy on the machines where
it is installed, citing the infamous and widespread Sony Rootkit, (and 
IMO also the TCM system, but I didn't go into that messa worms at
dinner) and that these compromises usually become public and do 
serious damage to both the credibility of DRM systems generally and
the cash flow of the companies that perpetrate them (ISTR Sony wound
up losing something over 6 million in the US judgement alone on that 
one, and spent considerably more than that on legal fees in the US 
and several other nations). 

Finally, I explained the "cheap" attacks available to a sysadmin who 
does not want his DRM'd software reporting its usage statistics; for 
example having a firewall that filters outgoing packets. 

Does anyone feel that I have said anything untrue?

Can anyone point me at good information uses I can use to help prove 
the case to a bunch of skeptics who are considering throwing away 
their hard-earned money on a scheme that, in light of security
experience, seems foolish?

                        Ray Dillinger

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