Posts tagged ‘rootkit’

Sony Rootkits, round 2

You may remember in November 2005 when I wrote about [1] the Sony/BMG rootkit scandal. To summarize: they put software on their music CDs that, when run in a computer, automatically installed files you couldn’t detect (this was the rootkit part) that acted a lot like malware, and screwed with your CD-ROM drivers so that if you tried to uninstall it, you could no longer use your CD-ROM drive. The intended purpose was to run DRM software that kept you from copying your CDs, and to hide this software so you couldn’t uninstall it. However, the rootkit could also be exploited by others, so that any malicious software (if installed in the right place) would go completely undetected by any antivirus program you might be running. It was nasty stuff. Sony eventually recalled the CDs and offered to give out software to remove the rootkit if you gave them your name, address, phone number, and a bunch of other information. In the meantime, the FTC ruled that the software was illegal, and Sony paid out millions of dollars in class-action lawsuits.

Why do I bring this up, I hear you ask? Well, it seems that Sony can’t let this idea die: earlier this week it was revealed that Sony is trying a similar thing with their new USB flash drives. Again, this software automatically installs a rootkit on your computer, and again this rootkit can be easily exploited by any other software to hide files on your machine. I suspect this will end similarly, with a recall and a class-action lawsuit, assuming this gets as far in the media as the last rootkit did (I hope the media picks up on this).

I remember back in the day when Sony was a great company, and I really liked them. Things seem to have changed significantly since Howard Stringer became CEO of the company (which happened about 9 months before the first rootkit scandal was born). These days, I’m really dismayed with them. I’m now going to start boycotting Sony products (which shouldn’t be too hard, since I don’t buy much from them anyway).

[1] Only half the links in my old post still work. Sorry about that. Does anyone have any good ideas for how to avoid this problem in the future?

Sony Rootkits and a Cool Bridge Hand

It appears that Sony and First 4 Internet have attempted (rather poorly) to defend themselves over the rootkit issue. That doesn’t change the fact that this stuff isn’t mentioned in the EULA and is still nearly impossible to remove. I’m going to be quite surprised if this doesn’t turn into some kind of class-action lawsuit. It’s absolutely despicable.

So, with the Fellowship application hanging over my head, I’ve got ridiculous amounts of work, and I’m barely sleeping. So guess what I do? That’s right. I install Bridge Base Online through WINE. It’s amazing! I have to get more time, a regular partner (perhaps Carl and I could play some more, even though he’s in Cambridge for a year…), and play. In the meantime, I kibitzed what are apparently some of the world’s greatest players, including Jeff Hand who became the World Master of the World Bridge Federation about the time I was born. In particular, I saw one incredible deal:

East opened 2 Clubs, showing not necessarily clubs, but a damn good hand (I play 22+ HCP or the first 9 tricks, but this person apparently plays it a little lighter). South overcalled 3 Clubs to show a weak hand with long clubs and interfere with the partnership that had the majority of the points. East cuebid 4 Clubs to show a club void, support for any other suit, and game-going values. North, seeing a 12-card fit and a side suit to run, jumped to grand slam. West justifiably doubled, since North/South could have at most 16-ish points between them. A spade lead would have set the contract, but West lead a heart (which makes more sense than a spade from West’s perspective), and the contract was cold. Declarer ruffed the opening lead, drew trump, cashed the ace of diamonds and ruffed a low diamond. When the King fell, declarer could run the minor suits to take all 13 tricks. It was really incredible to see this come up randomly and then watch 4 world-class players handle it.

Right. Back to my essays… :-P

Sony Rootkits and Other News

First, the news:

The big story at the moment is that Sony installs rootkits on computers when you use their DRM’ed CDs. This was first discovered here but was confirmed here. This has really been all over the internet. The basic idea is that rootkits are small programs that are designed to hide their own presence and the presence of other programs from everyone else on a machine. They are mainly used by crackers to keep people from noticing that they have malicious software controlling their computers. Sony, however, seems to think it needs to hide their DRM software in a similar way. Moreover, when you try to remove this, it messes up the drivers for your CD-ROM. It also makes it easier for actual crackers to hide their software. Truly nasty stuff coming from such a public company.

We also have our usual scandals going on in the US (“Scooter” Libby is pleading Not Guilty), Canada (the Liberal Party has apparently been having a financial scandal involving kickbacks to certain companies, and almost everyone except Prime Minister Paul Martin seems to be involved), and the UK (David Blunkett resigned again over poor business practices, and his unpopularity is again rubbing off onto Tony Blair).

Now for me:

Again, boo NSF Fellowship essays! the plan is to just work through this weekend on them. However, once they’re finished, I have to study for the CS GRE and figure out the bus/subway system again (is anyone going to Cal State – L.A. on November 12? Can I get a ride?). I’m also now 3 weeks behind on my Algorithms grading, and it would be nice to get caught up on that before the end of the semester. Argh! Too much stuff! I have to make next semester easier. In the meantime, I fear you won’t hear from me again for at least a week…