Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Microsoft to remove Sony malware from PCs

I found this off MSNBC website:

AMSTERDAM - Microsoft said it would remove controversial copy-protection software that CDs from music publisher Sony BMG install on personal computers, deeming it a security risk to PCs running on Windows.

The XCP program, developed by First4Internet in Britain and used on music CDs by Sony BMG to restrict copying and sharing, has generated concern amongst computer users, because it acts like virus software and hides deep inside a computer where it leaves the backdoor open for other viruses.

"We have analyzed this software and have determined that in order to help protect our customers, we will add a detection and removal signature for the rootkit component of the XCP software to the Windows AntiSpyware beta, which is currently used by millions of users," Jason Garms, group program manager of the Anti-Malware Technology Team, said on Microsoft's Technet blog.

Sony BMG last week provided a patch to make the program more visible after the discovery that hackers had taken advantage of the weakness to install viruses on PCs.

Responding to public outcry, the music publishing venture of Japanese electronics conglomerate Sony Corp. and Germany's Bertelsmann AG also said on Friday it would temporarily suspend the manufacture of music CDs containing XCP technology.

Asked to comment, the music publisher referred to its Friday statement. Last week, Sony BMG was targeted in a class action lawsuit complaining it had not disclosed the true nature of its copy-protection software.

Sony BMG's patch does not remove the program, which installs itself on a Windows-operated personal computer when consumers want to play certain Sony BMG music CDs. According to programmers it still leaves a security hole.

That was after the U.S. government had weighed in. A representative of the U.S. government last week warned entertainment publishers against using CD and DVD copy protection software that hides inside computers.

"It's very important to remember that it's your intellectual property; it's not your computer. And in the pursuit of protection of intellectual property, it's important not to defeat or undermine the security measures that people need to adopt in these days," said Stewart Baker, the assistant secretary the Department of Homeland Security, at a conference.

The Sony copy-protection software does not install itself on Macintosh computers or ordinary CD and DVD players.

I have a perfect response to this malicious abuse of corporate power--DON'T BUY SONY CDs or any products! It is almost getting to the point where you're going to need two or three computers in the house--one to surf the internet (and fight malicious spyware, adware, and spam), one to rip CDs into MP3s (that's not connected to the internet), and a third computer just to do whatever critical work you may have to do. It is one thing to be fighting the constant barrage of Viagra, cheap home mortgage, and see-me-on-my-webcam ads, but now corporations are starting to place their own malicious software on our home computers.

I'll admit that companies have a right to protect their intellectual property. But I don't believe that Sony's copyright protection extends to the point where they can place programs on my computer--without my knowledge-to monitor what my computer usage. What is worst, is that I wonder how many other music companies are also developing software similar to Sony's--Atlantic, Time Warner, Virgin, Columbia? What's on their CDs?

I guess the only way to fight this is to not purchase music CDs from Sony or any other big entertainment company at all.

No comments: