When Mark Russinovich was testing his companys security software last week, he came across a disturbing find: a Sony BMG CD he purchased from Amazon had secretly installed DRM software on his PC and used “rootkit” cloaking methods to hide it.
With the story sweeping across the Net, Sony is attempting to clean up its mess.
DRM, or digital rights management, is nothing new to CDs. Record companies began employing software to prevent users from easily transferring tracks to a PC after the explosion of file sharing activity that followed Napsters debut in 1999.
But for the most part, the DRM was quite rudimentary and only required the pressing of the “shift” key to bypass.
Not so with Sonys latest batch of CDs from Switchfoot, Van Zant and others.
Using technology developed by British software company First 4 Internet, the CDs limit the number of copy-protected backups that can be made.
To enforce the restriction, software and drivers are installed without a users knowledge when the CD is accessed.
Russinovich first discovered a hidden directory and several hidden device drivers—none of which would show up in Windows Explorer.