Further Sony hi(jack)inks:
As many of you have heard, several recent Sony CDs do some rather nasty things when you place them in a Windows PC. Notably, they install what is effectively a “rootkit”–a piece of software that installs itself and patches the operating system so that nothing, including the operating system itself, can see the program. It is effectively invisible to everything. This invisible process then controls what you can do with the CD. There is no uninstaller and the process of manually removing it will often render your CD drive inoperable until you reinstall Windows. It also reports usage statistics, via the internet, to headquarters. Details are all over Google News. Eventually, they “released” a web-based uninstaller that is so complex to use, you have to wonder if it is intentional–it involves two rounds of email responses and an ActiveX control that must be installed in Internet Exploder. The use of the uninstaller is limited to one machine withing 48 hours of the email.
Two pieces of recent news include:
- The Sony rootkit steals Open Source code. The LAME MP3 library seems to be part of the rootkit. This library is released under the LGPL license, which requires the full source code to be made available.
- Sony’s ActiveX uninstaller has serious holes. It seems the uninstaller marks itself as “safe for scripting” (meaning any web page or local script can call upon it.) It includes functions such as “RebootMachine” and “ExecuteCode.” Guess what they do. Yes, with the ActiveX installed, any website can reboot your machine or execute arbitrary commands.
Speaking of opening the door for hackers, it seems that there is now at least one trojan horse out there that makes use of the fact that the Sony rootkit hides from the operating system anything that starts with $sys$.
Three cheers to Sony for making hacking easier for skript kiddies everywhere! With any luck, this Sony Digital Restrictions Management technology will be so ubiquitous that any 7-year-old can write their very own worm.