Ubisoft DRM Fiasco: Allows Any Website To Take Control Of Your Computer

from the punishing-your-paying-customers dept

It's been nearly seven years since the great Sony rootkit fiasco, when it was discovered that Sony Music was using some DRM on its CDs that self-installed a rootkit (without letting users know) that had all sorts of security problems and vulnerabilities. The company took a massive hit for this, and you would think that others would be a lot more careful with their own DRM. You would think. But, then you don't know Ubisoft. The vast majority of times we've ever discussed Ubisoft in these pages, it's been because the company was doing something ridiculous with DRM. The company loves its DRM and seems to refuse to recognize that pissing off legitimate customers isn't such a good idea.

So would it come as any surprise that it may now be facing a "rootkit moment" of its own?

As a whole bunch of folks have been submitting, some hackers have figured out that Ubisoft's Uplay DRM appears to install an unsecure browser plugin. The details came out over the weekend, first on a security mailing list, and were then followed up with some test exploit code posted to Hacker News.

Basically, it appears that Ubisoft's DRM is installing an accidental backdoor that makes it possible for any website to effectively take control over your computer. That's... uh... pretty bad.

From the details, the real problem sounds to be one of exceptionally poor coding, rather than maliciousness. Basically, they wanted to let you launch the game via a website, but failed to limit it to just the game -- meaning that a site can make use of the plugin to basically do a whole bunch of stuff on your computer (including things you don't want it to do). The browser plugin is easy to remove (and you should, um, immediately, if you've installed any Ubisoft games), so it's not quite as messy as Sony's rootkit, which was pretty deeply buried. But it's still really bad.

Yet another case of DRM really making life difficult for legitimate customers who paid money for your product. When will companies figure out that DRM does nothing to stop piracy, but makes life really difficult for the people who actually give you money?

Filed Under: browser plugin, control, drm, rootkit, security, uplay
Companies: ubisoft


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  1. identicon
    michealPW, 4 Feb 2014 @ 5:58am

    Not DRM nor Rootkit

    "facing a "rootkit moment" of its own?"

    Well no, this is nowhere near a Rootkit. Rootkits modify the operating system's Kernel in order to hide locations from the user, such as a folder or file sitting at the root of your disk (C:\)

    In fact, this isn't even DRM... Digital Rights Management enforces licenses and copyright restrictions.. This was just some terribly planned (Not even so much bad code, but an awful plan from the very get-go to remotely-launch random programs.)

    For argument's sake, what I mean by bad plan, not bad code: If anything, when you click a link in a webpage it *could* trigger an already-installed launcher to run. Same way Steam and many other things work. You simply have the launcher register itself as a handler of some protocol.. Like the UBI:// protocol. Then whenever a link beginning with that protocol is clicked, your browser launches the UBI launcher and passes the address along to it... That way the enforcement is in the launcher and it's not just a random request to run *anything* on your machine.

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