Computer Crime Research Center


Sony uses hacker techniques

Date: November 05, 2005
By: Robert McMillan

After much criticism, Sony BMG Music Entertainment has released a software patch that removes the controversial cloaking technology found in its CD copy protection software.

Critics had slammed the software for being invasive and extremely difficult to remove because it uses the same cloaking techniques normally found in spyware or viruses.

This 'rootkit' software uses a variety of techniques to gain access to a system and then covers up any traces of its existence so that it cannot be detected by system tools or antivirus software.

The patch, which was posted to Sony's website on Wednesday, was posted to "alleviate any concerns that users may have about the program posing potential security vulnerabilities," Sony said. By installing the patch, users will not remove the copy protection software, called XPC, but they will make it visible to system tools and antivirus software.

XCP has been shipping on some Sony music CDs since early 2005. Licensed by Sony from UK firm First 4 Internet, XCP prevents users from making more than three backup copies of any XCP-protected CD. Sony will not say how many of its CDs use the software.

Critics had complained that because the software was virtually impossible to detect, hackers might somehow take advantage of it in order to hide their own malicious code from antivirus software. They had also slammed Sony for not adequately informing users of how it worked and for making it extremely difficult to remove XCP.
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