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July 2018
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Latest Denuvo Version Cracked Again By One Solo Hacker On A Personal Mission

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Denuvo is... look, just go read this trove of backlinks, because I've written far too many of these intros to be able to come up with one that is even remotely original. Rather than plagiarize myself, let me just assume that most of you know that Denuvo is a DRM that was once thought to be invincible but has since been broken in every iteration developed, with cracking times often now down to days and hours rather than weeks or months. Key in this post is that much if not most of the work cracking Denuvo has been done by a single person going by the handle Voksi. Voksi is notable not only for their nearly singlehandedly torpedoing the once-daunting Denuvo DRM, but also for their devotion to the gaming industry and developers that do things the right way, even going so far as to help them succeed.Well, Voksi is back in the news again, having once again defeated the latest build of Denuvo DRM.

This week, Voksi announced the passing of yet another milestone, one that’s bound to disappoint the people at Denuvo. After sinking endless hours into what he openly admits is a personal grudge against the company’s technology, Voksi revealed that its latest v4.9++ protection had fallen. Speaking with TorrentFreak, Voksi says that after tackling previous versions, a little while back he began dissecting the newer 4.7/4.8 builds (not official Denuvo versions but a numbering system used by the cracking scene).“Man, it seemed impossible back then. The obfuscation was insane, I had no idea what to do. So, over the next two months, with little breaks from time to time, I was analyzing exactly how [Denuvo] does those hardware checks,” he notes. “Then I tried my tricks for 4.7 on 4.8, but something wasn’t quite right. It was way more obfusticated and had some strange patterns and I couldn’t figure out why it was like that. Soon enough though in June things started to change.”
Now, while we generally dislike DRM here at Techdirt, we're not in the business of cheering on a crack-artist defeating any particular DRM. What is right in our wheelhouse, however, is discussing the overall impact of DRM and its effectiveness. We've spent hundreds of words already pointing out that this is an arms race every DRM maker loses, with Denuvo in particular falling at a rapid pace. With that in mind, we've wondered aloud why game companies even bother with any of this DRM nonsense, when they instead could be connecting with their customers and giving them real reasons to buy with innovative business models and engagement.But this point must be most evident when it's noted that Voksi, a single individual, has nearly brought Denuvo to its knees as some insane sort of solo project.
What comes next for 21-year-old Voksi remains to be seen but given his determination, other games are probably being worked on right how. He says that several other titles use 4.9 or 4.9++ protection so it’s possible he’ll have more surprises in the days and weeks to come.“In the end, it might take some more testing and test cracks, but I’m very happy to announce that I won’t stop until we are Denuvo Cancer Free from all games,” he concludes.
Whatever you might think of Voksi as an individual or DRM and game-cracking in general, what should be immediately apparent is that relying on DRM that is vulnerable to one 21 year old with enough motivation to kill it over and over again is a fairly shitty business practice in which to be engaged. And, yet, game companies still work with Denuvo and other DRM makers for reasons I cannot possibly fathom.When one person negates that work, it's probably time to come up with a new plan.

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European Parliament Turns Up The Pressure On US-EU Privacy Shield Data Transfer Deal A Little More

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Many stories on Techdirt seem to grind on forever, with new twists and turns constantly appearing, including unexpected developments -- or small, incremental changes. The transatlantic data transfer saga has seen a bit of both. Back in 2015, the EU's top court ruled that the existing legal framework for moving data across the Atlantic, Safe Harbor, was "invalid". That sounds mild, but it isn't. Safe Harbor was necessary in order for data transfers across the Atlantic to comply with EU data protection laws. A declaration that it was "invalid" meant that it could no longer be used to provide legal cover for huge numbers of commercial data flows that keep the Internet and e-commerce ticking over. The solution was to come up with a replacement, Privacy Shield, that supposedly addressed the shortcomings cited by the EU court.The problem is that a growing number of influential voices don't believe that Privacy Shield does, in fact, solve the problems of the Safe Harbor deal. For example, in March last year, two leading civil liberties groups -- the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch -- sent a joint letter to the EU's Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, and other leading members of the European Commission and Parliament, urging the EU to re-examine the Privacy Shield agreement. In December, an obscure but influential advisory group of EU data protection officials asked the US to fix problems of Privacy Shield or expect the EU's top court to be asked to rule on its validity. In April of this year, the Irish High Court made just such a referral as a result of a complaint by the Austrian privacy expert Max Schrems. Since he was instrumental in getting Safe Harbor struck down, that's not something to be taken lightly.Lastly, one of the European Parliament's powerful committees, which helps determine policy related to civil liberties, added its voice to the discussion. It called on the European Commission to suspend the Privacy Shield agreement unless the US fixed the problems that the committee discerned in its current implementation. At that point, it was just a committee making the call. However, in a recent plenary session, the European Parliament itself voted to back the idea, and by a healthy margin:

MEPs call on the EU Commission to suspend the EU-US Privacy Shield as it fails to provide enough data protection for EU citizens.The data exchange deal should be suspended unless the US complies with EU data protection rules by 1 September 2018, say MEPs in a resolution passed on Thursday by 303 votes to 223, with 29 abstentions. MEPs add that the deal should remain suspended until the US authorities comply with its terms in full.
It's important to note that this vote is largely symbolic: if the US refuses to improve the data protection of EU citizens, there's nothing to force the European Commission to comply with the demand of the European Parliament. That said, the call by arguably the most democratic part of the EU -- MEPs are directly elected by European citizens -- piles more pressure on the European Commission, which is appointed by EU governments, not elected. If nothing else, this latest move adds to the general impression that Privacy Shield is not likely to survive in its present form much longer.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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