Amazon Kindle Vulnerable To DRM Hack

Digital Rights Management

Amazon sells content for the Kindle in a format, known as ".azw," which prevents users from violating copyright regulations and transferring files loaded with protected content to other devices.

However, now that the Kindle can be hacked, all content, such as e-books, can easily be transferred to other devices via PDF file.

One Israeli hacker, known as Labba, cracked the Kindle's DRM protection during a hacking challenge on the site, according to the BBC.

In an unrelated hack, another hacker, calling himself "I [heart] cabbages" created a program called "Unswindle" designed to reformat digital content stored on the Kindle for PC application to other movable formats.

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"I heart cabbages" said on a blog post that Amazon worked particularly hard on its DRM process. The effort was ultimately in vain, underscoring the fact that attempting to block hackers and other users from finding a way to use digital content as they wish is an endeavor in futility.

"I [heart] cabbages" said that both the Kindle proper and Kindle for iPhone/iPod app both used single "device" encryption key for all DRMed content. Kindle for the PC, however, used the same encryption algorithms, but added an extra layer with a per-book session key for decrypting content.

"Amazon actually put a bit of effort behind the DRM obfuscation in their Kindle for PC application," the hacker said. "And they seem to have done a reasonable job on the obfuscation. Way to go Amazon! It's good enough that I got bored unwinding it all and just got lazy with the Windows debugging APIs instead."

Those who install "Unswindle" can pick the e-book they want to decrypt and then read it in any format they want.

Amazon will likely address the recently exposed DRM vulnerability some time next year.

The Kindle is yet another device to be susceptible to a DRM hack. Apple also imposed DRM restrictions on iTunes until the hacker known as "DVD Jon" found a way to penetrate the system and get around digital rights restrictions. Apple has since done away with its DRM technology for iTunes.

The Kindle has experienced rapid success, with skyrocketing sales since it was first launched in 2007. However, its DRM protection has caused endless headaches for users, who complain that it only puts up barriers for paying customers -- not hackers -- to the way they want to use and share content.