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Sony recalls millions of copy-protected CDs ! - 11/16/2005 9:56:49 AM   

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Record label Sony BMG Music Entertainment said on Tuesday that it will recall millions of CDs that, if played in a consumer's PC, will expose the computer to serious security risks.

Anyone who has purchased one of the CDs, which include southern rockers Van Zant, Neil Diamond's latest album, and more than 18 others, can exchange the purchase, Sony said. The company added that it would release details of its CD exchange programme "shortly".

Sony reported that over the past eight months it shipped more than 4.7 million CDs with the so-called XCP copy protection. More than 2.1 million of those discs have been sold.

The company said in a statement: "We share the concerns of consumers regarding discs with XCP content-protected software, and, for this reason, we are instituting a consumer exchange programme and removing all unsold CDs with this software from retail outlets. We deeply regret any inconvenience this may cause our customers."

The company made the announcement - its second public apology since the CDs' risks came to light last week - just as security researchers found several other potentially dangerous flaws in the software.

Princeton University computer science professor Ed Felten yesterday wrote in his blog that he and a fellow researcher had confirmed that Sony's initial web-based uninstall tool - designed to uninstall the copy-protection software deposited by Sony's CDs - actually exposed a critical vulnerability on computers.

The tool downloaded a program that causes a user's hard drive to accept instructions from websites. But the program remained active on the user's hard drive after it had been instructed to uninstall the Sony software. The program could then be triggered by almost any code from any website, including malicious instructions, the Princeton researchers said.

Felton and fellow researcher J Alex Halderman wrote in their blog: "Any web page can seize control of your computer; then it can do anything it likes. That's about as serious as a security flaw can get."

Sony later replaced that web-based uninstall tool with one that downloads a program with its own instructions, as opposed to one that accepts instructions from websites. The researchers said the new program appeared to be safe.

For anyone who did use the earlier tool, the researchers' blog has instructions for removing the Sony component.
Separately on Tuesday, security company Internet Security Systems released its own new advisory on Sony's software. It warned that flaws in the copy-protection software - not just in the early uninstall tool - could allow an attacker to take control of a user's machine.

Previously, security researchers had spotlighted the online release of several Trojan horse viruses that piggybacked on the Sony software to hide their presence on hard drives.

The Trojan horse software, once installed, automatically connects to an internet chat network and allows an attacker to take remote control of an infected computer.

Although more than two million of the Sony discs have been sold, it's still unclear how many of those were actually played in a Windows-based computer, thus triggering the security risks. Sony notes that the copy-protection software is not activated on an ordinary CD or DVD player, or on a Macintosh computer.

Security researcher Dan Kaminsky said he estimated that at least 500,000 computers had installed the Sony software.

Once installed, the Sony software can relay data, which indicates what CDs are being played, to an outside server. To relay the information, the software has to find its destination by contacting the internet's domain name system address servers, where a publicly available record of that request is left behind.

Kaminsky said he counted more than 568,000 separate requests. The method counts any request coming from the same network but only once. So it might not include repeated requests coming from offices or schools, where numerous computers use the same network, he said.

Kaminsky said: "The thing that's proved here is not the upper bound. This is a lower bound. This is a pandemic."

Sony's copy-protection software was created by British company First 4 Internet. The software is installed on a computer's hard drive when certain Sony compact discs are put in the CD player and the listener accepts a licence agreement.

The software then hides itself using a controversial programming tool called a "rootkit", which takes over high-level access to some computing functions. The rootkit blocks all but the most technically savvy users from being able to detect its presence.

Sony has worked with antivirus companies to help their products pierce this veil of invisibility, and has posted a patch on its website that will uncloak the hidden software. It also said it would temporarily stop manufacturing discs using the First 4 Internet tools.

Lawsuits have been filed against the record label in California and New York, and others are expected.

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RE: Sony recalls millions of copy-protected CDs ! - 11/28/2005 6:31:24 AM   
Tony Veglis

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Negative advertisment is not an option for Sony this time. All this DRM talk makes consumers wonder about the policies of the electronic giants, and don't forget, Blu-Ray /HD DVD is on the way.

(in reply to SiliconFreak)
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RE: Sony recalls millions of copy-protected CDs ! - 11/28/2005 6:37:35 AM   

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I can bet its part of the console war between sony and microsoft ...
all blame bill gates !!!! its all his fault I tell you that ...
he must have found that little problem and made the windows volnruble to it .. he could have just fix it and such but noooo .. bah !!!
he just wanna mess with sony and its PS3 !!!! :(

(in reply to Tony Veglis)
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RE: Sony recalls millions of copy-protected CDs ! - 11/28/2005 4:11:49 PM   

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   It has nothing to do with gaming machines.  It is AUDIO CD's...  Sony currently has 14 class action Lawsuits against it for this, including 4 States from the US.

   Now in all fairness.... sony, a BLAZING member of the RIAA, that says someone who downloaded a song illegally, should pay 15,000 PER SONG (yes this is true)... okay, so it is estimated that they have caused damages to over 20,000,000 computers, I would say that perhaps 1.2 million per person should be about right.....

    I hope the courts take them through the ringers... and I mean drain them... removing their ill software (ROOTKIT) causes damage to the CD/DVD drive in the computer and renders it useless from then on without a TOTAL system format.

    I hope they have to pay like they have made helpless grandmothers pay!  Of course, it IS CORPORATE AMERICA... they will end up paying absolutely nothing.

< Message edited by MP3Mogul -- 11/28/2005 4:14:45 PM >


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RE: Sony recalls millions of copy-protected CDs ! - 11/28/2005 7:43:19 PM   

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Of course, it IS CORPORATE AMERICA... they will end up paying absolutely nothing.

The only way to get them to pay is to make a commitment... NO SONY PRODUCTS OR ARTISTS.  Punish those that decide to sign with a Sony Record label as well... get the music (if you are truly interested) by another means.... and let's hope the recording artists side with the consumer and sue Sony for declining record sales due to their unethical business practices.

I hate to say it, but as consumers, we need to look past Blu-Ray... Sony is getting kickbacks from that technology and I gotta tell you, I don't trust them.  What are they going to try to hide in a Blu-Ray disc?

... also keep in mind that Corporate America no longer has borders within the continental states since Sony is a Pacific Rim firm.

(in reply to MP3Mogul)
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RE: Sony recalls millions of copy-protected CDs ! - 11/29/2005 4:56:00 PM   

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I have absolutely "no intention" of going Blue Ray, no matter who manufacturers it..... of course this happens to be Sony in this case.. but they cost is going to be astronomical when released (I heard 24.00 USD) per disc when released... They MUST be crazy... this will never catch on.... especially now since most blank DVD's of quality are around 35 cents USD....


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