Microsoft update breaks Safedisc games on Windows Vista, 7 and 8
A recent security patch released this month, MS15-097 Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Graphics Component Could Allow Remote Code Execution, breaks computer games that rely on the DRM system Safedisc on Microsoft's Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 operating system.
Games that rely on Safedisc include the Age of Empire series, Battlefield 1942, Civilization 3, various Command and Conquer games or Microsoft Flight Simulator. These are all old games released more than 10 years ago but still playable on modern systems.
The security bulletin itself mentions that the update resolves vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office and Lync which attackers could exploit to run code remotely on affected systems.
The description on Microsoft's Knowledge Base adds that the security bulletin "addresses a defense-in-depth update for the secdrv.sys driver, a third-party driver" by turning the service for the driver off.
The driver secdrv.sys is used by Macrovision's SafeDisc copy protection scheme.
This has the consequence that games that rely on Safedisc won't work anymore on all systems the patch was installed on.
The same Knowledge Base articles offers a workaround to play these games on patched systems again. The caveat is that doing so will render the systems vulnerable again. Microsoft states explicitly that it does not recommend the workaround because of this.
The workaround requires that you start the driver before you play games that require Securom and stop it again the moment you are finished playing these games.
All commands require an elevated command prompt. On Windows 8 press Windows-X, and select Command Prompt (admin) from the context menu. In earlier versions of Windows, tap on the Windows-key, type cmd.exe, right-click on the result and select "run as administrator".
To start the service manually
Run the command sc start secdrv which starts the service if it is installed on the system.
To stop the service manually
Run the command sc stop secdrv which stops it immediately so that the system is no longer vulnerable to attacks.
Microsoft has released instructions on how to make the changes permanent. While that is more convenient than having to run these commands before each game session, it makes the system vulnerable to attacks again.
Please note that the service is only installed on the system if a game that required the DRM was installed on it.
Windows 10, Microsoft's newest operating system won't run games requiring SecuROM or SafeDisc as well because of security loopholes they may introduce on the system.Advertisement