Sony halts production of 'rootkit' CDs

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 11, 2005
Updated • Apr 24, 2013

After lots of controversy about their rootkit music CDs Sony announced today that it will halt the production of rootkit music CDs and won't use it on upcoming CDs as well. It seems that consumer and media backlash finally paid off.

The pressure on Sony increased over the last days with anti-virus companies warning its customers not to install this rootkit software and big companies like Microsoft taking a stand against it as well.

Update: One of the reasons for the backlash was the nature of the technology that Sony used to protect the music from being copied on the Windows operating system. It needs to be noted that the rootkit was only somewhat effective on Windows systems, and that Linux or Mac users could play or copy the music CD just fine without being hindered to do so by the rootkit.

The copy protection, according to Wikipedia, was put on a total of 102 different titles. Users who tried to play the music on their computer running Windows using autoplay would inadvertently install the rootkit on the systems. Sony backed out of the program shortly after the media and public became increasingly aware of what the company did install on user PCs.

Users who unknowingly installed the rootkit on their system faced other dangers. It became known for instance that trojans and other malicious software used the rootkits ability to disguise files to remain undetected on the computer system.

The rootkit furthermore was said to cause all kinds of issues on PC systems, from system crashes to DVD or CD drives not working anymore after the removal of the software from the system.

Sony later on released two rootkit removal programs. The first, highly ineffective at removing the rootkit, and a second after public criticism.

Users interested in the whole story should check Wikimedia's article on the issue. It covers everything from the very beginning to legal consequences.


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