Sony bundles rootkit-like software on USB drive
Hits replay on CD debacle
A USB fingerprint authentication device from Sony contains rootkit-like technology, according to security watchers. The MicroVault USM-F fingerprint reader software bundled with the stick installs a hidden directory under Windows.
"Files in this directory are also hidden from some antivirus scanners (as with the Sony BMG DRM case) — depending on the techniques employed by the anti-virus software. It is therefore technically possible for malware to use the hidden directory as a hiding place," warns anti-virus firm F-Secure.
Attempts to hide MicroVault software in a hidden directory may be an attempt to protect fingerprint authentication from tampering and bypass. This aim is laudable but the technique Sony used is misguided, F-Secure argues.
Sony, which drew fire for its use of similar rootkit-like techniques as copy protection mechanism on CDs two years ago, is yet to respond to the latest criticism.
Back in 2005 Sony BMG 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. ®
You've got a corporation that has clearly shown that it has less respect for its users than it does for other corporations, by illegally installing malware onto users' machines.
Two years later, you think they'll behave any differently? Why would they? They got their little fingers burned the last time, true. A human might have reconsidered his evil ways and given up on that course, or at least tried to avoid another public spanking. A corporation, though, has no shame, no conscience, and apparently a short memory. Perhaps, though, they got a competent programmer to create this rootkit - someone who has experience in creating malware.
You (sorry, u) are missing the point.
These directories are impossible to see, even if you are an administrator and using all of the forensic tools available to you. Your antivirus software cannot even detect that they are there. So if a virus or keylogger could take advantage of a flaw in the Sony software to install itself into the hidden directory, it cannot be detected. You would be blissfully unaware that something was recording all your keystrokes and sending them home to daddy when you log on to internet banking or use amazon or whatever.
As has been said, a better option would be encryption and access protection. It's easy enough to do and malware exploiting it would then be visible and the AV scanners can deal with it.
Sony would be a more rational company if it were split in two. Sony Hardware/SW is overprotective of Sony Media, with disasterous results.
For better security, get two fingerprint readers and a voice recognition system...
Hey Sony... ooVo "Ptbbbbbbtttt!"