Whenever there’s a new format release, security is always the number one priority for the content creators. That’s why UHD Blu-rays ship with Advanced Access Content System (AACS) 2 encryption, a secure technology developed and used by IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Panasonic, Sony, Toshiba, the Walt Disney Company, and Warner Bros. It was thought that the technology would be extremely hard to break, but 4K UHD Blu-rays have begun appearing on pirate websites, leading many to wonder whether the encryption has been broken.
At the beginning of 2017, many believed it would take a while before AACS2 encryption was eventually, and inevitably cracked. That’s due to the complex nature of the encryption, with it using bus encryption and two keys as opposed to just a single key, but as with all encryption the keys have to be somewhere on the system, it’s only a matter of time before they’re either located or the encryption is cracked completely.
The first 4K UHD Blu-ray to be leaked on to pirate websites was The Smurfs 2, with the uploader claiming to have cracked the AACS2 encryption. That was later questioned by others in the community, who claim that it could have simply been a vulnerability with that disc, as opposed to a problem with the encryption as a whole.
Despite the doubts, two further 4K UHD Blu-rays have fallen since. Those include Patriots Day and Inferno. Two of those films were produced by Sony, although Patriots Day is the odd one out, ruling out an issue affecting just one studio, or just one disc. But has the encryption really been cracked?
Well, the jury is still out on that, many still believe that there’s a simpler explanation. TorrentFreak reports that it’s far more likely that the uploaders found a way to bypass the encryption, rather than completely crack it. The bypass method could be achieved several ways, including an exploit in Intel’s SGX, which would make it possible to sniff out what PowerDVD has in memory. Pirates may have also found an exploit in a private media player software, allowing them full access to the data and read the encrypted disc.
4K UHD Blu-ray players are only just starting to flood into the market, meaning the format hasn’t had the opportunity to flourish. Now with the full resolution files filtering their way onto pirate websites, it could force the companies behind the AACS2 encryption to go back to the drawing board. Thankfully, the 4K UHD Blu-rays have yet to become popular on torrents, with file sizes easily reaching in excess of 50GB.