Sony, Rootkits And Mock Surprise

from the who-didn't-see-this-coming dept

This has been discussed to death on other blogs and news sites, so we'd been ignoring it on the assumption that you've seen it elsewhere already. However, in the last twelve hours or so, it's been submitted a dozen times by people who seem to want us to write about it. Yes, the copy protection scheme that Sony uses on some of its CDs acts identical to all sorts of nefarious malware, sneaking its way deep into your computer and making itself almost impossible to remove. What's amusing about the story, though, is the way so many people are acting surprised and outraged by it. How else would you expect the entertainment industry to put copy protection on your computer? Of course they're going to try to hide it. And, why wouldn't they hide it deep within the system using the same techniques as rootkits? People have pointed out for ages that most of these copy protection schemes are no different than other types of malware (installed without you knowing it, prevents your computer from acting as it should, not easily removable, etc.). All this article has done is show more explicitly how it's been done -- but it's hardly a surprise. If you didn't expect the entertainment industry to employ these tactics, then you haven't been paying much attention lately.

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  1. identicon
    lar3ry, 1 Nov 2005 @ 12:47pm

    It's truly a root kit... Malware

    You should read one of the many articles. It does install without warning. The guy that originally documented it is a professional "SysInternals" developer, and he had to jump through hoops to uninstall it (if you simply delete the files, your system becomes unbootable, since it even loads IN SAFE MODE). It was a great bit of detective work, and he spent a LOT of time attempting to uninstall it.

    Face it, this is malware. There is NO entry in "Add/Remove programs" to install it, and it's an active malware: it is contantly checking out your system causing a CPU penalty of about 1-2%. Now, if you don't think that 1-2% is high, what happens when a couple of dozen different distributors decide to install a dozen different bits of malware on top of one another. It will bring your system to its knees. And what benefit does the uninformed consumer get? No benefit whatsoever! This ugly bit of code is installed on your system without your permission to "protect" the songs on your CD from YOU!

    If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then, by Jim, it's a damned duck! This malware is nothing more or less than a root kit, designed to hide files and registry keys, and to spy on what you are doing. It installs itself as a service as a USB driver (huh? your CD isn't on a USB connection? So what? We don't really have to TELL you what we're installing on your system!).

    It's a kick in the face to every person that purchases this CD. Complaining to SONY won't do squat. They know what the software does, and if they claim ignorance, then they haven't done due dilligence in protecting YOUR computer from THEIR software. They can put anything you want in an end user license, but even then, they don't mention the root kit. It's still their responsibility: if their software destroys any system--and making it so you can't boot EVEN IN SAFE MODE is nothing less than destruction--then they are guilty of the computerized equivalent of vandalism.

    Suggestion: purchase a Mac or a Linux box, and use that to listen to (and legally rip!) your legally purchased CD's. A Mac Mini costs less than $500, and a Linux box can be put together as cheaply as a regular PC. If you MUST use Windows, disable the CD "auto-run" feature, but eventually there will be a way for the labels to circumvent even that. (Hmmm.... isn't that a circumvention device?)

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