Merry XMas … would you like a virus with your music?

(This is a copy of an email I sent to friends a while ago — so yes I know it its about a month old! — but considering that Sony and the RIAA still doesn’t get it!. It still seems appropriate! I especially love this press conference by the Texas Attorney General.)

There is a very nasty piece of software that Sony/BMG and others put out there on their music CDs. I realize that some of you may have heard this, but the anti-virus companies haven’t been doing their job when it comes to removing this software and this is a case of something purchased in the store being able to screw you. And it is a really nasty piece of software that it is impossible to remove.

This software installs a root-kit on Windows machines that causes the computer to slow down and can be used to take control of your computer. (Mac and Linux are not affected)

What makes this so nasty:

You buy a CD. You put the CD into your PC in order to enjoy your music. Sony grabs this opportunity to sneak into your house like a virus and set up camp, and it leaves the backdoor open so that Sony or any other enterprising intruder can follow and have the run of the place. If you try to kick Sony out, it trashes the place.

What it also does is tell Sony every time you play the CD. Because of this it is now known that over 600,000 computers have been infected.

Read more

Technical article that broke the news

Brief technical description

‘Fortunately’, there is a really quick way of finding out if a computer is infected. Create a file or directory that starts with ‘$sys$’, for example $sys$test. If it disappears, then congradulations! You are infected. You might wish to join the class-action lawsuit 1 or lawsuit 2.

An evolving, *but not complete!*, list of CDs that are infected is here, including help in how to spot a CD

But you are better off with avoiding any CD listed on amazon as being ‘copy-protected’ or ‘DRM’ protected. Better safe than sorry.

What can you do if you are not infected?

  1. Spread this email. This is not an urban myth!
  2. Ask your congressperson to support HR1201- the Digital Media Consumers’ Rights Act (VA-08 Rep. Boucher )
  3. Don’t buy copy-protected CDs
  4. Support the EFF

P.S. I don’t want any CDs for Xmas. LPs anyone?

Update: To disable autoplay, which is the windows ‘feature’ which helps these nasty DRM programs from doing their thing, see this Microsoft article

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