(Still overwhelmed with other work — and ‘way behind — but I am at a down moment at a conference.)
Sony BMG has configured some of its music CDs to install antipiracy software that uses techniques typically employed by hackers and virus writers to hide the program from users and to prevent them from ever uninstalling it.
The CDs in question make use of a technique employed by software programs known in security circles as “rootkits,” a set of tools attackers can use to maintain control over a computer system once they have broken in.
People may differ over what exactly a rootkit is, but the most basic ones are designed to ensure that regular PC monitoring commands and tools cannot see whatever has been planted on the victim’s machine. Because rootkits generally get their hooks into the most basic level of an operating system, it is sometimes easier (and safer) to reformat the affected computer’s hard drive than to surgically remove the intruder
[…] I understand Sony’s desire to protect its intellectual property, and piracy certainly is a problem. But installing software that opens people up to further security risks and potentially destabilizes the user’s computer can’t be the best way to address that problem.
Slashdot’s got other articles: More on Sony’s “DRM Rootkit”