a Someone should care, maybe not you....: I always feel like, somebody's watching me.... .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Someone should care, maybe not you....

My thoughts on many things including the army, war, politics, the military corrections system, chaos, life, books, movies, and why there is no blue food. Feel free to comment on what I say. Feedback is nice.

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40+ year old former teacher, linguist, interrogator, soldier, and lastly convict. We all do stupid things every once and awhile. I am an economic conservative and a firm believer in civil rights. Starting a new life now and frankly not sure what I am going to be doing.

20 November 2005

I always feel like, somebody's watching me....

Paranoia? Maybe, but then again, maybe not? Have you heard what Sony BMG did to everyone who bought a CD recently?
It seems that Sony, in a fit of righteous indignation over all of the vicious music pirates out there put something called XCP on their CDs. It was in theory a piece of copy proctection. Not computer CDs, music Cds. And when you put that CD into your computer to play it Windows being the helpful bit of software that it is installs XCP on your computer. (You Mac, LINUX/Unix guys are safe it seems) XCP is supposed to monitor how many copies you make of the CD and prevent it. IT is also a rootkit. (A Trojan Horse) that writes itself to your system, communicates with Sony's computers about what your computer is doing, and opens big holes in your security that other hackers can then exploit to bust into your computer. There were 52 titles that Sony had released with XCP on it.
This wonderful little bit of spyware was discovered on Halloween by a computer security expert. He recounts this on his blog. sony-rootkits-and-digital-rights
It is a scary tale. This guy is an expert and he had real issues with getting rid of this thing. Turns out if you just delete it (assuming of course you could actually find it) it cripples your CD player.
When he went public Sony said the root kit was "not malicious and does not compromise security." (HAH) Thomas Hesse of Sony went on NPR and said "most people, I think, don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?"
Maybe because we don't want our computers telling you every time we play a certain CD? Perhaps because we aren't happy with people sticking unwanted software on our personal computers with no way to get rid of it without our permission?
Sony then put up a bit on it's website that offered a way to remove XCP. Of course to use it you had to give Sony your email address, install and Active X controller on your computer, and it turns out that the uninstall left big holes in your security again.

After a great deal of denying, ranting, etc, Sony has recalled all of the XCP discs and has made a real way to get rid of XCP available. They have not admitted they did anything wrong. There are several lawsuits pending. I look forward to them and hope Sony gets nailed to the wall.
If you have played a recently purchased sony CD on your windows based computer you need to read the blog of the guy who found it because he explains the manual steps you can take to uninstall it without having to depend on Sony. He also goes into a lot more detail than I have oh what happened, how Sony responded, and what the possible problems you could face because of this. (They are substantial!)

the sad thing of course is that all of this would have no effect what so ever on the serious music pirates. They like most hacker types operate in the LINUX/UNIX world and this bit of software would have had no effect at all on their systems.

Remember, your privacy is always at risk. It's not paranoia if they really are out to get you.

For further info
The Rootkit of all Evil (subscription required)
More Questions raised

68 Comments:

Blogger The Appalachianist said...

Oughta hang em high.

3:14 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

You Mac, LINUX/Unix guys are safe it seems

Heh. got six machines, all running some flavor of Unix.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

11 21 05
Hey Exmi:
I found out about this via the BAy Guardian about a year ago. They did an article about how Sony was gonna release this technology and there was talk that they will connect it to televisions and other devices. Geesh! Where is our privacy these days? Good post. I will hilight it for today. Happy Thxgiving too:)

3:23 AM  
Blogger Serena said...

and that is why I rock a mac!
*shudder*

4:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mac, Unix guys are safe

Safe from this particular Sony malware, perhaps. It's worth noting that the very word "rootkit" comes from the Unix community, where they've been around for decades.

It's not that Macs and Linux are particularly secure. It's that they're particularly obscure, from the point of view of market share and thus from the point of view of return on investment for developing a rootkit to control CDs on other environments. Were other environments to suddely explode in popularity, then Sony would be owning Macs and Linux boxes and ignored the few remaining Windows holdouts as not worth the effort.

10:32 AM  
Blogger exMI said...

Yes, they are safe from this. But as Linux becomes more popular you will see more of this for you too. Same for Macs. Hackers breathe in UNIX.

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