Sony fiasco shows copy protection at its worst
Last time around, we talked about backing up software and the implications such backups would have on copyright laws. Since that time, the news of Sony's copy protection fiasco broke and just seemed to get worse and worse.
To recap, Sony recently released CD's which, to be played on a PC, required the installation of a Sony media player.
Installation of the media player also opened the PC up to being targeted by hackers.
Sony claims they were merely trying to protect their CD's from being copied too many times, and we'd have to take them at their word for that.
We really don't think Sony is involved in a plot to hack the world's PCs.
To make matters worse, once Sony acknowledged the problem, they said it was only about 20 titles, but wouldn't tell us which ones.
Finally, Sony 'fessed up and listed 53 CD's as the bad ones, promising to replace them with "good" CDs.
So how do you know if you've caught the bug?
Well, if you've played any of the CD's on this list -- www.up-srow.com/sonybmg/ -- chances are pretty good you've picked it up. Surely, someone out there bought "Bette Midler Sings the Peggy Lee Songbook?" She went to Radford, after all.
As the above link mentions, you are only at risk if you've played these CD's in your PC, not in a conventional CD or DVD player. The link also tells you how to go about replacing the bad CD's with good ones, and, for good measure, mp3 files as well.
If you think you're affected, how do you fix the problem?
Microsoft's Anti-Spyware package (available for no cost at www.microsoft.com) promises to detect and remove the Sony glitch (more technically known as XCP rootkit). Make sure you get the latest updates.
Sony has also made a removal tool available at cp.sonybmg.com/xcp/english/updates.html.
Unfortunately, there was no way for any computer user to prevent this problem from happening. In fact, it was only discovered after the fact by a person who can only be described as a geek's geek.
If you want the details on how he came about this, check out this link www.sysinternals.com/blog/2005/10/
sony-rootkits-and-digital-rights.html, but beware, it makes even the most seasoned techie's heads spin.
For now, the best you can do is stay diligent, and make sure all of your security software is up to date, whether it's firewall, anti-spyware, or anti-virus.
is president of ISDI Technologies Inc., a Honolulu-based IT consultancy. Call him at 944-8742 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org