Sony DRM Installs a Rootkit

For whom still thinks DRM ain’t no problem, slashdot reports how Sony DRM Installs a Rootkit: guru Mark Russinovich has a detailed investigation of a rootkit from Sony Music. It’s installed with a DRM-encumbered music CD, Van Zant’s “Get Right with the Man”. (Mmmm, delicious irony!) The rootkit introduces several security holes into the system that could be exploited by others, such as hiding any executable file that starts with ‘$sys$’. Russinovich also identifies several programming bugs in the method it uses to hook system calls, and chronicles the painful steps he had to take to ‘exorcise the daemon’ from his system.

Full article here.

If you want to skip the technical stuff, here is Mark Russinovich’s conclusion:

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. Worse, 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.
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.

I’ve thought it before, George Orwell picked his title twenty years too early.