Feeds

Gaffer tape defeats Sony DRM rootkit

D'oh

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Updated Sony's controversial DRM technology - which installs rootkit-style software when users play Sony BMG CDs on Windows PCs - can be defeated easily with nothing more than a piece of masking tape, security researchers have discovered.

Sony BMG has endured a public-relations and legal nightmare after it emerged digital rights management (DRM) software installed on some of its music CDs (First4Internet XCP program) created a handy means for hackers to hide malware from anti-virus scanning programs.

Under pressure, Sony has been forced to recall discs loaded with the technology and create an exchange program for consumers. The music label still faces class action lawsuits by users who allege that their PCs have been damaged by the technology.

Now analyst house Gartner has discovered that the technology can be easily defeated simply by applying a fingernail-sized piece of opaque tape to the outer edge of the disc. This renders session two — which contains the self-loading DRM software — unreadable.

"The PC then treats the CD as an ordinary single-session music CD, and the commonly used CD 'rip' programs continue to work as usual. Moreover, even without the tape, common CD-copying programs readily duplicate the copy-protected disc in its entirety," Gartner (which is at pains to say it doesn't endorse the use of rip technology) explains.

So Sony's DRM technology is not going to prevent tech-savvy home users - much less pirates - from copying CDs to their heart's content even though it loads "stealth" software onto the PCs of the less informed. "After more than five years of trying, the recording industry has not yet demonstrated a workable DRM scheme for music CDs," Gartner concludes. It reckons the music industry will abandon attempts to encumber CDs with DRM software and refocus its efforts on pushing legislation to require that DRM technology be integrated into PCs. ®

Update

Placing gaffer tape on the edge of a CD may make it unbalanced and could cause damage to the disc or (worse) drive as it spins at high speed. A better option, as Reg readers point out, might be to disable Windows autorun.

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.