|added Thu November 03 2005 at 9:27 PM
|If you want a technical treatise justifying what I'm about to write about, you can find it from the blog it was first posted on. In a nutshell, Sony has included software on all their copy-protected CDs that not only wastes system resources and is unwelcome, it also screws up your CD-ROM drivers. Oh yeah, and you can't uninstall it, either. Don't even try to uninstall it, because if you do you will most likely cause your CD-ROM drive to stop working. That alone is reason enough to be qualified as Malware and make me never buy copy-protected CDs from Sony. However, the next part is enough that I'm considering completely boycotting all Sony products and services.
In an effort to protect their copy-protection scheme, they automatically install a rootkit that has no purpose but to completely hide the fact that their processes are running on your machine. Nothing in the EULA says that they are doing this, and there's only vague references to the possibility of a "small program" being installed. For those that are less than computer-savvy, this is not only bad manners, but it's potentially dangerous (because users have no way of knowing that the software is running), and of questionable legality. Basically, this is a trick used exclusively (until now) by hackers trying to control your computer without your knowing it. And it gets worse.
In case it wasn't bad enough that they make it impossible for the user to find their software running, the way that their cracking software determines whether or not a process or program should be displayed for the user is simply a blanket policy that *any* file or process whose name starts with $sys$ (dollar signs included) becomes completely invisible. Which means that it not only hides Sony's dubious software, it also opens a backdoor for any software to hide itself on an infected system. This includes malware, viruses, worms, *anything*. All they have to do is rename eViLwUrMz to $sys$eViLwUrMz and they can drop it in your startup folder, maybe add a registery key or two, and their virus is now hidden from the user, courtesy of Sony BMG.
So where does that leave us? First of all (and this should be obvious but unfortunately not everybody seems to understand how extreme this is), do NOT buy ANY CD from Sony that claims to be copy-protected. If you have already purchased the CD, do NOT under ANY circumstances put it in your computer (there are, of course, ways to circumvent it and keep it from being installed, but abstinence is always safer than using protection). Okay, let me make this a little bit simpler (after all, I know that most of my readers aren't techno-wizards). Don't buy any CDs from Sony. If you *must* have the latest album by [insert favorite artist here], download it from iTunes.
Sony has betrayed our trust. They have crossed the line from being annoying with DRMs that make listening to music a challenge to severely jeopardizing our computers. This behavior is not only unkind an unethical, it's unacceptable. Until further notice, I will not be purchasing *any* product sold under the name Sony. If they're willing to hack into my computer, why should I trust them with the rest of my consumer electronics?