Sony, the rootkit and the internet community

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 16, 2005
Updated • Apr 29, 2013

No matter which internet page you open these days you are guaranteed to find at least one article mentioning the Sony rootkit affair. Instead of providing you with the latest news on the case customer vs. Sony BMG I´d like to analyze an interesting aspect of it.

In the beginning, there was one guy, who found out about the rootkit software, analyzed it in depth and wrote an entry on his blog named Mark's Sysinternals Blog which is a well frequented site. Then the ball got rolling, the news was copied and commented on other sites, big portals like slashdot and digg had articles that soon became the most popular ones for the day.

The news spread like fire throughout the world wide web, people from all over the world read the news. It was soon clear that there were only a few who supported Sony's move, the majority was clearly against it.

News got worse for Sony the following day when Mark identified additional "features" of the application. First, the rootkit software was phoning home to Sony. Second, it was almost impossible for the average user to uninstall it. Third, the rootkit had a cloaking ability that other executable files could use to hide inside, a perfect hiding place for malicious software.

Sony's reaction was to provide an update to the rootkit software that disabled the cloaking feature. Unfortunately it was again almost impossible for the average user to find the uninstaller on their webpage. Still, Sony in its shining glory denied that the rootkit posed a security threat and that most users didn't care whether a rootkit was installed on their system. The patch unfortunately had the nasty habit to crash windows on some machines.

The internet community created lists of CDs that contained the software, boycott websites went into existence and had to deal with a massive amount of visitors who were looking for information or wanted to join the boycott.

With lots of News Coverage from respected institutes like BBC, Sony presented a statement on Monday that they would cease the production of music Cd's containing First 4 Internet's XCP technology, for now.

Yesterday Dan Kaminsky presented the first figures of rootkit infections analyzing the rootkits phone home traces in the dns cache of nameservers. This lead to the conclusion that at least half a million networks are infected with it. He created a graphic showing infections on a map of North America.

sony infection usa rootkit

Today Sony finally announced that it would institute an exchange program for already purchased CDss and pull the rest from the market.

Now, what conclusion can we draw from this? It's pretty obvious to me that Sony underestimated the "power" of the internet community. From a single website the story spread into the whole world in no more than one day. It became so popular that big internet portal sites like, and reported on it. The traditional media became aware and soon the story was also making headlines in newspapers, radio shows and even television.

Sony: 0
Internet Community: 1

What I learn from this? We have a tremendous power in our hands and can use it to force even multinational corporations to yield. And countries? That question remains to be answered.


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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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