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 Forum index » Reviews, Editorials and Commentary » Commentary and Editorials
Sony CD protection scare
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bachus



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 6:03 am    Post subject: Sony CD protection scare
Subject description: I hate this kind of s**t
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TECH NEWS
Sony CD protection scare

Wed, 02 Nov 2005

SonyBMG has configured some of its CDs to install anti-piracy software, using techniques straight out of the hackers' guidebook.

These techniques ensure that the program is hidden from users and effectively prevents them from uninstalling it, according to Mark Russinovich of software company Sysintervals.

Cited in a report by The Washington Post's Brian Krebs, Russinovich claims that the CDs use a technique known as "rootkits", tools which hackers can use to control a computer once they've broken in.

The most basic rootkits are designed to make sure that normal PC monitoring functions can't see the program planted on the 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," writes Krebs.

"The entire experience was frustrating and irritating. Not only had Sony put software on my system that uses techniques commonly used by malware to mask its presence, the software is poorly written and provides no means for uninstall."

Sony's anti-piracy program installer loads up automatically when you put a copy-protected CD into your drive. If you agree to install it, there is no "uninstall" feature.

On locating the files — Russinovich is an expert on rootkits — he discovered that deleting the program also removed the system files powering his CD drive.

"Most users that stumble across the cloaked files with a RKR scan will cripple their computer if they attempt the obvious step of deleting the cloaked files," wrote Russinovich.

"While I believe in the media industry’s right to use copy protection mechanisms to prevent illegal copying, I don’t think that we’ve found the right balance of fair use and copy protection, yet. This is a clear case of Sony taking DRM too far," he added.

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elektro80
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 6:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

This is pretty bad. Do you have more info on this?
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 6:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

This is very stupid for Sony to do this. A bad businsess decision. I bet this is a good candidate for a class action suit.

More: http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=2092

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Bachus, would you please edit your post and include a link back to the original website. Thanks...
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elektro80
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 7:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Is there more deep tech info on this. AFAICS this is Windows problem right now. I would hate it if these very sick sick dudes at Sony would implement a rootkit hack on OS X. But.. any decent CD copying application can used to image the disk anyway and then you can grab the media off the image file using various tools. The only thing I think will happen with this tech is that it will encourage "piracy" because this would be the only way to actually get at the media content on the CD without crippling the OS.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 7:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Well, we don't know if it affects other OS's. My guess is they didn't announce this was working on Windows, they just did it. Maybe there is something similar on OSX and they haven't been caught yet. One can only speculate.

One can speculate a lot if you assume a CD music manufacturer is devious. Imagine you put a hidden program on the CD that sees it's being run on an OSX computer and secretly hacks the OS to reduce performance. The goal being people would get a Windows computers next time, and maybe a Sony.

Sony is in the music software business too, DAWs - I forget which they bought. I wonder if this scheme is loaded on computers that use that software. Is this just audio CDs?

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opg



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

What can I say? Rules were meant to be broken, fences meant to be climbed, and once music is in digital format, it is impossible to keep people from making perfect copies of it. You can't put out a fire with more fire.

If they want to stop piracy, they'll have to create new technology altogether. Maybe go back to vinyl. Who says digital and analog are the only two forms? Maybe there's something cool that we don't even know about. Something with nanotechnology - carbon rings - I'm sure big corporations will go to any lengths to secure a profit (Even if it, ironically, means losing money in the end).

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some carbon molecules to rearrange.
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ian-s



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 8:13 am    Post subject: Re: Sony CD protection scare
Subject description: I hate this kind of s**t
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TECH NEWS wrote:

Sony's anti-piracy program installer loads up automatically when you put a copy-protected CD into your drive. If you agree to install it, there is no "uninstall" feature.


So they use an autorun on the disk, like the odd DVD that contains optional PC software. You still have to click "Yes" to install it. I guess they could make a bootable disk to catch those who leave the disk in the drive between restarts. Much easyer to bypass windows security from the boot sector, a modern bios should catch that I think. scratch
A good reason to get all your Sony movies from mainland China.
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elektro80
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

This is sad. Crying or Very sad
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

What if you went "old school" and used something pre-Windows? And what about the CD/DVD burners that are stereo equipment, not PC-related? I'm sure the Sony brands would sync nicely, but others?

I still stick with my original thought. "Once it's digital....."

Anyways - yes - making the process more complicated for the average person is just going to scare them away or turn them into deviants Wink
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SynthLord



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

One of the many reasons I use WaveLab to rip CDs instead of allowing Windows Media Player or WinAmp to do it ...

... I choose the destination folders, file names, and track information (WMP always screws it up for me; on a mix CD, the DJ is the artist, the guy who recorded the original record is the composer ... and I don't care about disc number)
... I can choose the file format (mp3) and compression ratio so I can not only use WaveLab later to analyze the track sprectrally, but I can burn several discs' worth of files onto one CD and "import" them onto my Mac into iTunes
... WaveLab is much faster at ripping CDs than any media player I've ever used
... A lot of CDs that have digital copy-protection can be ripped in WaveLab, but not in commercial media players
... I can easily avoid licensing SNAFUs and unwanted 'ware installation

Not that I'm trying to avoid licensing the music for my PC & Mac, but their records or whatever don't stay consistent. I've probably purchased 50 songs from the Windows Media download center and (along with a few ripped CDs) each tim I want to play them WMP has to connect to the Windows network and download permission for me to play music that I bought, some of it from them!!!

I've got no problem with people protecting their copyrights and their music - hell, I expect them to do so - but they're making everything about consuming music so damned frustrating anymore there are times I want to just go back to listening to cassettes.

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elektro80
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

FYI : http://www.sysinternals.com/utilities/rootkitrevealer.html
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bachus



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:
Bachus, would you please edit your post and include a link back to the original website. Thanks...


My apologies. This was from a direct link on the Google news site which I can’t now find—so I’m kicking my butt for ever having posted this. I am severely distracted by the immediate real world at the moment and cannot do more to correct this at present than to grovel a bit. I will search on this tomorrow or the next day and report what I have found. Again my apologies.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2005 5:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Well, here is the URL for what it's worth:

http://cooltech.iafrica.com/technews/515384.htm

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2005 6:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hey.. great! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2005 7:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Some details of how this was discovered are here:
http://www.sysinternals.com/blog/2005/10/sony-rootkits-and-digital-rights.html
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2005 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

More here: http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=27426

I recommend reading the article, but here is an excerpt:

Quote:
Say you want to remove the Sony stuff. According to no less a source than The Washington Post, the bare minimum you have to do to remove the rootkitted DRM infection is give up your privacy. If you go to the Sony page, here, you have to give Sony your email at the very least, and according to the WP story, Sony then grills you about your reasons for not liking being rootkitted.

So, if you want to remove it, go here and click the link. Don't use Firefox though, it won't work, it's Internet Explorer only. If you are concerned enough about security, you probably know enough not to use IE. Once again, brilliant Sony, just brilliant.

The funniest part is that you don't actually remove the software with this tool, only make it visible, and you are still infected up and down with DRM. Should you be lucid enough to realise that you don't want this crap within a few miles of your system, you have to go through the grilling process above. Want to make it seem even more surreal? If you remove the malware and DRM infection, you can't play the CD anymore. Nope, the money you spent on Sony products is gone. Mal-way or the highway.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2005 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

This is all pretty absurd.

Ah well there are more reasons to boycot Sony, what they did with their mp3 recorders was reason enough for me to never buy anything from them again, but this makes things a bit more clear.

Next thing is that 'll have to forbid people to play DRM-ed CD's on PCs at work, my people, at my work on my PCs I mean. As the appointed sysop I don't really feel like removing that trash again ... this has to be treated like a virus, like malware and trojans.

The article is very worthwhile reading, it has some nice tips for tools as well :-)

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2005 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

more on this
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2005 5:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I had been concerned that I had been taken in by a spoof. But I've been disabused me of that idea. Thanks--I think:) Anyway, this is exceedingly execrable. Boycott Sony indeed! And thanks for the excellent links.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2005 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

OK. My studio is now Sony free.

Anyone else?

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2005 10:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Some details (for which I do not attest) on the fix:

http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,123432,00.asp

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2005 5:41 am    Post subject:
Subject description: Sony DRM Decloaking Patch Might Crash Windows
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Unbelievable:
http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,123438,00.asp

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2005 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
Sony is not using the software to gather information on its users, said company spokesman John McKay. "No information ever gets gathered, that's for sure," he said.


See, there is nothing to worry about. We should relax and trust Sony just as much as they trust us.
Wink

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bachus



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PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2005 5:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
OK. My studio is now Sony free.

Anyone else?


Gee, I got a sony DVD player in my main machine. But it's hard to see how removing it is going to advance the cause of liberty, justice and the electro-music way. However, that's a self serving position and I am deeply suspicious of such. I can see how the world would be better if I didn't buy anymore Sony s**t. But dumping what I got? How does that argument work? Perhaps I can be persuaded.

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