It seems Sony’s latest efforts to thwart the digital pirates involve installing hidden software which intercepts various Windows system calls, cloaks itself to prevent detection and can totally disable a Windows PC when it is removed.
Analysts are already referring to this as a “rootkit” as the damage it can do when it’s removed can result in a PC needing to be rebuilt from scratch.
Not the brightest idea…
Which leads me onto the next piece of security advice – disable autorun – it’s a major hole in Windows that allows any CD to install anything without prompting you. Microsofts “Powertoys” (specifically “TweakUI”) allows you to do this without any mucking about in the registry. For other versions of Windows than XP, I’d suggest a Google search.
Update (another one)
It appears that Sony are releasing a patch which deals with the “hidden” aspect of this rootkit (which at least will prevent other spyware from using it to cloak) but it doesn’t deal with the problem that to play a music CD requires a special driver to deal with their security.
This story has now moved into the mainstream media – http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4400148.stm
It’s notable however that the company that developed this DRM software states that he should have contacted Sony for removal instructions rather than removing it manually – however when Mark found it there was nothing identified during the early stages of the investigation into what this rootkit was, and where it had come from which stated it was from Sony in the first place.