Hack Allows Any Computer To Use Apple AirPlay

A new Apple AirPlay hack allows users to stream music to any computer without the need for special software or hardware.

The ShairPort hack, developed by Australian James Laird, allows any copy of iTunes running on the local network to stream music to any desktop computer.

Laird managed to crack Apple's AirPlay by dismantling his girlfriend's AirPort Express device and examining its ROM, which stores the details of the device's firmware.

Laird was able to get hold of the cryptographic keys that are used by compatible devices to identify themselves to iTunes. The keys are essentially used by Apple to control which devices the AirPort Express can stream media to.

“My girlfriend moved ... and her Airport Express no longer made it with her wireless access point. I figured it'd be easy to find an ApEx emulator - there are several open source apps out there to play to them. However, I was disappointed to find that Apple used a public-key crypto scheme, and there's a private key hiding inside the ApEx,” Laird wrote on his website (http://mafipulation.org/blagoblig/2011/04/08#shairport).

The ShairPort hack and app released by the Australian will pave the way for future AirPlay apps that could further exploit its media streaming functionality. However, it is unclear how Apple will react to the hack. It could either change the cryptographic keys or launch a legal assault on Laird.