Recently there has been a lot of news about rootkit and how it can compromise the function and security of one’s computer system. A brief overview for those who are not too familiar with the rootkit terminology, it is basically a term to describe a set of tools that are designed to make files and actions undetectable by typical computer users and various programs. For example, imagine a virus in your computer that is using this type of technology to make itself undetectable by an antivirus program and therefore cannot be touched.
Sony has apparently been using a rootkit as a form of digital rights management, also known as DRM, on various record labels which a lot of people have recently discovered. Basically, it is an extra measure from Sony’s part to help prevent its music CD’s from being illegally copied or distributed. When one tries to play the CD on a computer, it would first require you to install a program designed to play it while the user is oblivious to the fact that a rootkit is being installed on their computer. This basically alters the way that your music files are played as it now has to first go through this tunnel to function. Not only that, but the program also has features which sends your computer information to Sony.
Recently, hackers have found ways to exploit this technology and use it for unscrupulous means. As an example, in a very popular online game called World of Warcraft, there are measures in place to detect whether or not a player is using some kind of cheat to unfairly progress in the game. By using the rootkit provided by simply playing a Sony CD music that has the technology installed, the person can then use that technology to make themselves undetectable and therefore being able to exploit the game with various programs as they please. While this is just a video game, the thoughts of this happening in a more serious scenario is quickly making people worried.
While people have attempted to uninstall the rootkit, due to the nature of technology being able to make itself invisible to programs and altering the way certain functions in Windows operate, it has proven to be a daunting task as trying to remove it can result in the operating becoming unusable. The last result would be to reformat your computer and to re-install everything. A lot of people are now labeling it as a form of malicious virus and spyware. Many people are attempting to create a removal tool.
The interesting thing I found out of all of this is how many people were interested in hearing Sony’s response about this and they basically received a low key response on the matter. This obviously left a lot of people disgruntled and I won’t be surprised if I see lawsuits popping up about this matter. I guess this makes an interesting point that while everyone should rightfully be able to protect their work and investment from being abused, doing it in an invasive way can make you just as guilty as the person who you are trying to stop. Definitely something to think about for businesses that require some form of digital rights management system.