A team of Israeli-German researchers has uncovered that a Google Chrome bug makes a pirate’ life easy in this day and age. The news hits the world of digital streaming hard as popular browser-based services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have already voiced their concerns on the matter. This comes on top of requests from such companies that browsers up the ante on protecting video copyright.
David Livshits, a researcher at Ben-Gurion University’s Cyber Security Research Center in Israel, teamed up with Alexandra Mikityuk from Telekom’s Innovation Labs in Berlin. Their research focused on the popular digital management program called Widevine. This software is integrated into Google Chrome, as it is in all Chromium-based browser.
To fathom the damage that the Widevine Google Chrome bug could do, we must remember that the Californian internet giant’s browser was designed to be open source. This means that any other browser using the base code (i.e. Chromium), could, in theory, be subjected to the same bug. What’s worse, Google has told Wired that there isn’t much they can do about this issue: apparently, any programmer with a bit of coding artistry can swoop past Chrome’s copyright protection (through Widevine) and essentially create their own browser just for piracy.
This may sound a bit like a pirate of old building his own ship to roam the Caribbean searching for loot. And it wouldn’t be too far from the truth. A modern hacker looking to exploit the Google Chrome bug would, in theory, use a software through which to play the video streaming link of something from either online streaming platform (Amazon’s Prime and Netflix being the most vulnerable). The moment that the user clicks play, this Widevine vulnerability essentially permits the creation of a copy of the video file on the user’s computer.
If we’re to look, however, at how quickly some hackers get a hold of freshly released episodes (a day at most), it would be fair to say things are not looking good. The researchers disclosed their study results to Google on May 24, before waiting the common courtesy of 90 days to tell the public.
Surprisingly, though, unlike with other past Google Chrome bug exploits, the Californian corporation has yet to come up with a fix, let alone a patch. That means that whatever ingenious pirate out there could, point of fact, get to copying thousands of hours of copyright-protected material. The relative safety given by the researchers’ refusal to unveil the full pirating process is only a small obstacle for the highly-trained internet swashbucklers. I guess then it’s safe to say that Google Chrome makes a pirate’s life easy.
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