Sony BMG's DRM technology might also affect Macs

Sony BMG's "rootkit" copy protection technology may affect Macs -- and the software can also be exploited by malicious hackers, reports claim.

MacInTouch reports claims by a reader who recently purchased a Sony BMG CD. The reader found that the CD installs a Mac application, "Start.app" which itself installs two files: PhoenixNub1.kext and PhoenixNub12.kext.

This is not the same software as is currently causing such a furor against Sony BMG. The Register claims: "It's a Mac version of SunnComm's DRM software, MediaMax, which Sony BMG uses to copy-protect a range of CDs."

Sony BMG faces consumer backlash

The label's aggressive attempt to protect what it construes as its rights has driven consumers to turn to the courts to protect their own. The company already faces a class-action lawsuit in California, another in New York and possible legal action in Italy.

The California suit claims Sony BMG broke three state laws -- the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, the Consumer Protection against Computer Spyware Act, and the California Unfair Competition law. It wants the court to stop Sony BMG selling any more CDs using the technology, and seeks compensation for damage done.

The filing also accuses the company of not fully disclosing the extent of what the software does. A report on Gamespot claims the software has the effect of disabling the CD player on a computer if a user tries to uninstall the cloaked software.

Virus-writers exploit the error

Woes continue for the combined record label while the merger between Sony and BMG is protested against in the European courts on the grounds that it threatens competition and consumers.

Computer security experts across the world are this morning reporting that a new piece of malware, in this case a Trojan Horse, is exploiting Sony's software and is contained in an email that purports to be a message from a business magazine.

Sophos reports this message says: "Your photograph was forwarded to us as part of an article we are publishing for our December edition of Total Business Monthly. Can you check over the format and get back to us with your approval or any changes? If the picture is not to your liking then please send a preferred one. We have attached the photo with the article here."

Sophos has issued a tool which will detect the existence of Sony's DRM copy-protection on Windows computers, disable its "cloaking" function, and prevent that functionality from re-installing. The tool also detects versions of the Troj/Stinx Trojan horse which exploit the Sony vulnerability.

Sony BMG eases malware-writers task

Antivirus firm Trend Micro also warned against the risk of the Sony BMG rootkit software. Chief technologist Raimund Genes said: "The issue is less about the Trojan than it is about the underlying rootkit technology utilized by it. This is because the rootkit is a 'kernel-mode' program, which can be used for more dramatic malicious purposes than can 'user-mode' programs."

"We don't blame Sony for attempting to exercise its right to manage its digital property" he said. "However, what's important to understand is that this technology can now be used by malicious malware writers to hide and spread their creations. These writers include those who might not know how to write their own rootkits - but now they don't have to."

Sony BMG seems determined to transform the affair into a complete PR disaster.

Ovum declares scheme "unacceptable"

Ovum analyst Graham Titterington reports that Thomas Hesse, the president of SonyBMG's global digital business division, said in an interview on radio station NPR: "Most people don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?".

"The entertainment industry must sort out the limits on how far it can go to protect its copyright material. It is totally unacceptable that it is laying its customers open to identity theft as the price of protecting its royalty revenues," he writes.

Consumer advocates demand music-lover rights

The activity takes place during the same week as European consumer rights advocates launch a campaign demanding that consumer rights in the digital age be defined and protected.

The campaign launched yesterday with a press conference at the European Parliament. The groups want to draw attention to the way consumers: "Are treated as criminals and pirates for person-to-person file sharing and downloads."

"We believe it is high time to guarantee consumers certain basic rights in the digital world and to tell them what they can do with their digital hardware and content," the groups said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jonny Evans

Techworld.com
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?