Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


06:01 PM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner

Sony Is Just As Bad As Music Pirates

Sony's latest response to the threat of music piracy is to engage in behavior every bit as bad as the pirates it's trying to protect itself from.

Sony's latest response to the threat of music piracy is to engage in behavior every bit as bad as the pirates it's trying to protect itself from.Sony BMG Music Entertainment decided that the threat of piracy was so severe that it needed to protect itself by installing hacker tools on customers' PCs that exposed those systems to massive security vulnerabilities.

Sony included hacker technology called a "rootkit" in the copy-protection software distributed along with one of its music titles. A rootkit is technology used by computer criminals to permit them to break into target systems. The rootkit is such a hairball to remove that security researchers recommended users not try to remove it themselves, but rather contact Sony to get instructions.

Sony countered by saying that the copy-protection software is harmless, and issuing a patch. Hackers, meanwhile, are making a mockery of Sony's claims, by distributing code that they calimed takes advantage of security holes opened by Sony's DRM.

And, as revealed today, the patch presents problems of its own; it can crash Windows.

The Sony software is, plain and simple, spyware, by any reasonable standard of the word. It installs itself without users' knowledge, it runs in stealth modee, it damages the user's system, and it resists removal.

Sony's tactic isn't just a problem for consumers; it's also a problem for business network managers. Employees often enjoy listening to music while at work, and an employee who innocently brings in a CD that's infected with Sony's copy-protection can open a security hole to the entire network.

Sony had no excuse for its behavior. The fact that some of its customers pirate music does not legitimize Sony's hacking into all its customers computers and exposing them to security holes. Sony needs to recall the infected media, confess it did wrong, apologize to customers, and make amends. Meanwhile, law enforcement authorities need to investigate whether Sony is in violation of civil and criminal laws against computer piracy. I'm no lawyer, but it sure looks from here like they are.

Update 11/9: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has released a partial list of what it claims are the CDs that sony has infected with its copy-protection software.

The titles include CDs by Celine Dion, Neil Diamond, Dion, and Ricky Martin. The EFF article also has tips on how you can tell if a CD you bought from Sony contains the copy protection.


Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/6/2020
Russian Cyber Gang 'Cosmic Lynx' Focuses on Email Fraud
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/7/2020
Lessons from COVID-19 Cyberattacks: Where Do We Go Next?
Derek Manky, Chief of Security Insights and Global Threat Alliances, FortiGuard Labs,  7/2/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-08
Buffer overflow exists in Geovision Door Access Control device family, an unauthenticated remote attacker can execute arbitrary command.
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
An issue was discovered in CMSUno before 1.6.1. uno.php allows CSRF to change the admin password.
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
Victor CMS through 2019-02-28 allows XSS via the register.php user_firstname or user_lastname field.
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
A memory leak in Openthread's wpantund versions up to commit 0e5d1601febb869f583e944785e5685c6c747be7, when used in an environment where wpanctl is directly interfacing with the control driver (eg: debug environments) can allow an attacker to crash the service (DoS). We recommend updating, or to res...
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
Gossipsub 1.0 does not properly resist invalid message spam, such as an eclipse attack or a sybil attack.