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Sony takes another run at DRM
Written by Daniel   
Monday, 26 March 2007 07:10
Undeterred by Blu-ray hacks, Sony unveils yet another cipher for DRM
ARS Technica
By Jeremy Reimer | Published: March 25, 2007 - 07:55PM CT

Sony announced late last week that they have invented a new encryption mechanism known as "CLEFIA," a block cipher algorithm designed to help content producers deliver "advanced copy protection" with their products. The name comes from a play on the French word clef, which means "key." We can't help but snicker, given that it has been key-sniffing that has been undoing DRM as of late.

CLEFIA is aimed at portable electronics and home entertainment products, and can be applied to music, images, or even video. The big claim from Sony is that CLEFIA has "sufficient immunity against known cryptanalytic attacks," yet it has relatively low hardware requirements. The company plans to formally present the CLEFIA algorithm at the Fast Software Encryption 2007 conference in Luxembourg.

Sony claims that the new algorithm is extremely efficient; when implemented in hardware, it can achieve a maximum throughput of 1.42 Gbps using a 0.09 micrometer CMOS standard cell library and gate size of 6.1K, which Sony says is a new record for hardware gate efficiency.

The idea is to make it possible to implement the protection as a relatively inexpensive hardware component for media playback devices. Software implementations are also possible, and Sony claims that they will achieve "high speed performance on a wide variety of processors," although the company declined to give specific figures.

Block ciphers are a common cryptographic tool used in many existing algorithms, including the US government encryption standard DES—a variant of which has been used to serve secure web pages—and its replacement, AES. Unlike simple ciphers that translate a character at a time, block ciphers encrypt entire blocks of text at once, using a secret key which can be of varying lengths. CLEFIA uses a block size of 128 bits, and can be configured to use keys of 128, 192, or 256 bits...More

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