Computer Crime Research Center


Sony rootkits

Date: November 04, 2005

The Japanese giant is being accused of surreptitiously planting "rootkits" on people's computers to enforce digital rights management policies on music CDs.

According to Mark Russinovich, a Windows expert at a U.S. company called Sysinternals, which does deep-level software analysis, some of Sony-BMG's music CDs install antipiracy software that uses methods typically used by hackers and virus writers to hide malicious programs and prevent users from uninstalling them.

These tools are called by the generic name of "rootkits,' which hackers commonly use to cover their tracks after breaking into someone' computer. Typically, they are designed to make sure common PC tools cannot see whatever has been planted on the victim's machine. Properly written rootkits can be extremely difficult to remove, and it is often easier to erase and reformat an entire drive than to attempt to remove one.
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