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.: Here’s some scary news out of Kansas, but then, where else would one expect it to happen? Kansas is where the latest challenges to teaching evolutionary biology began in 1999. Scientists there are fighting back as best they can.

.: Are into bittorrents like I am? Are you a Shaw subscriber, like I am not? Check Shaw Cable secretly limits BitTorrent Bandwidth.

.: Here’s a story from the NYTimes about a particularly nasty piece of software referred to here as a rootkit, and used by Sony BMG to copy-protect its pop-music CDs. Excerpt:

Starting in June 2004, Sony BMG records began copy-protecting its pop-music CD’s. Over the months, the company has used several software schemes for preventing you, the customer, from making illegal copies of its discs. But 20 albums are protected by a scheme devised by a company called First 4 Internet—and it’s caused an incredible online furor.

These CD’s, all bearing “Content Protected” labels on the packaging (meaning “copy protected”), do something very sneaky if you try to play them on a Windows PC: they install a proprietary watchdog program that prevents you from copying the CD more than twice. (On a Macintosh or Linux machine, these CD’s play just fine, without any copy protection.)

Last week, a programmer and blogger named Mark Russinovich dug a little deeper, and found out something disturbing: the Sony watchdog program not only installs itself deep in the core of Windows—it’s what’s called a rootkit—but it also makes itself invisible.

Among other problems it creates, is this one: “Once hidden, the copy-protection software is invisible to antivirus programs, too. So the baddies of the Internet could, in theory, use Sony’s software as a backdoor to infect your machine, and your virus checker would miss it.” Nasty indeed.

4 Responses to “Thhhpppppt!”

  1. Jason Says:


    Regarding your statement about ISPs throttling BT bandwidth – this is unfortunately the new reality. There are temporary workarounds but the powers that be are not going to back down on this. The internet is leaving its Wild West phase and civilization is upon us. Soon even grandmothers will be safe on the net – it will only be useful for email and surfing (and maybe not even the latter). And don’t get me started on copyright.

  2. Jena Says:

    When I popped the new Bonnie Raitt CD into my PC, I was asked to install some special “player” with the same kind of copy protection you mentioned. She records on Capital, so it’s not just Sony. I popped the CD right out again without installing this handy little piece of crap, and won’t play it anywhere except in the car. (I just spent 4 days rooting out and destroying spyware and trojans off our three computers, and the last thing I want is more software that’s potentially open to viruses and spyware.)

  3. Jena Says:

    Okay, in the car and in the DVD player in the living room…except all I ever seem to use it for is movies. Since we got Star Choice, we have either CKUA or the Blues or Adult Alternative channel playing. I can’t think of the last time I played a CD — I usually rip straight to my laptop and archive the CD.

  4. the pod bay door » Blog Archive » Sony Recalls CDs With Rootkit Software Says:

    […] .: As mentioned earlier, it was revealed recently that Sony has been embedding rootkit software into some of its new CDs to copy-protect the discs. Sony has shipped >4.7 million CDs containing the software in the past eight months, and >2.1 million have been sold. Now it is backfiring on Sony dramatically. A few days ago, Sony announced suspension of the production of CDs with this technology. Sony is recalling millions of CDs with this software embedded within each disc. It gets worse. Today, Websense, a security company, confirmed it has discovered malicious web sites designed to exploit security flaws in the rootkit uninstaller programmer released by Sony. […]

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