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Away From Home

Friday, December 02, 2005

Boycott Sony!



Why, you might ask?

Because they sold CDs which purposely installed some of the most destructive software onto people's computers, failed to tell anyone about it, and then, when they finally got called on it, released an "uninstaller" that made it worse.

Here's a brief recap (full recaps here, here, and here):

Sony put copy-protection software called XCP onto many of their audio CDs. When someone put the CD into their computer, it automatically installed the XCP software, which prevented your computer from copying the files. However, in order for XCP to have the ability to do this, it also installed a "rootkit," which is a piece of software that enables other software to have full access to a computer.

Sound like something a hacker might use? It should -- hackers developed it.

Sony finally got caught. On Halloween of this year, it was revealed that this software existed. Sony originally denied the story, then made it seem like a rootkit is not that big a deal. Eventually, they put out an "uninstaller" that removed the XCP software, but not the rootkit. In fact, the uninstaller made the problem worse. When a person went to the uninstall website, the website asked the person for permission to alter the computer to remove the software. However, when it was done, it left that hole wide open, so that any website could take any action it wanted on the user's computer.

Sony has since stopped selling those CDs, and is offering to exchange people's XCP CDs for regular ones. (By the way, XCP CDs were never clearly marked, so it is difficult to figure out which CDs have it and which ones don't.) But this is not enough.

Boycott Sony this Christmas.

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