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Sony in trouble

Thursday, November 17, 2005

It's a David and Goliath story of a blog defeating a mega-corporation.

What went down... on Oct 31, Mark Russinovich broke the story in his blog: Sony BMG Music Entertainment distributed a copy-protection scheme with music CDs that secretly installed a rootkit on computers. This software tool is run without your knowledge or consent - if it's loaded on your computer with a CD, a hacker can gain and maintain access to your system and you wouldn't know it. Image hosted by

The Sony code modifies Windows so you can't tell it's there, a process called "cloaking" in the hacker world. It acts as spyware, surreptitiously sending information about you to Sony. And it can't be removed; trying to get rid of it damages Windows. The mainstream media took it up after it circulated around the blogosphere.

On Nov 11, Sony announced it was temporarily halting production of that copy-protection scheme. Fearing a public backlash, on Nov 14 the company announced it was pulling copy-protected CDs from store shelves and offered to replace customers' infected CDs for free.

Get this... Sony rolled out this incredibly invasive copy-protection scheme without ever publicly discussing its details, confident that its profits were worth modifying its customers' computers. When its actions were first discovered, Sony offered a "fix" that didn't remove the rootkit, just the cloaking. (duh!)

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The funny thing is, this rootkit was designed to prevent copyright infringement but...itself may have infringed on copyright. It might seem, the code seems have come from an open-source MP3 encoder called LAME found in I smell a lawsuit! Image hosted by

In an earlier press release, Sony announced that 20 titles were affected. Sony has now published a full list of the 52 titles. It is also working on an improved uninstaller that does not leave PCs open to more attacks. Image hosted by

IMHO, if this is what mega-corporation does to those who buy 'ori' products... I'd rather stick with those from 3 for RM10 in Bkt Bintang plaza. Image hosted by

What a PR nightmare for the struggling giant.
posted by Ivan, 9:11 pm


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