Today we'll discuss three Snippets -- and please pay special attention to the first one:
- Sony's Rootkit CDs -- And What It Means for You
- The True Stella Awards: A Brief Book Review
- Is Your Driver's License Info Available on the Internet?
Sony's Rootkit CDs -- And What It Means for You
Note: This article on the Sony rootkit and why it's important was challenging to write. Although there is an enormous amount of info about the Sony rootkit, most of it is written in geek speak. Making this info easy to understand has taken a bit of doing...
Earlier this month, it was discovered that Sony BMG, the world's second largest music label, had secretly embedded antipiracy technology, called XCP and included something called a rootkit, on some of their music CDs.
Expert security researchers have described Sony's technology as "spyware" because it is hidden, difficult to remove, and transmits information back to Sony without users knowing. This antipiracy technology cloaks itself so that it appears invisible to users. (Sony executives have denied that their technology is a form of spyware.)
Even worse, it opens up computers who have the rootkit installed to other more malicious programs that can then get installed and remain undetected -- and leave computers vulnerable to hackers.
Last Thursday, it was discovered that virus writers had already taken advantage of this security hole created by the installation of the Sony rootkit, by modifying an old Trojan that now takes advantage of the shielding that the Sony technology provides.
Most experts agree that Sony's action is ethically wrong. And now, a California class action suit against Sony BMG claims it is illegal as well. Other lawsuits are also being considered.
How do you know if you've been infected? Sony has used this XCP technology on a number of its titles, which include different labels and musical genres.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has a list of CDs with this XPC technology on their website, as well as other excellent info on this topic.
Fortunately, some of the leading antivirus companies have already created updates to detect Sony's antipiracy program, disable it, and prevent it from reinstalling itself.
Sony has finally responded to the furor by announcing it will temporarily suspend production of CDs that contain this antipiracy technology and stated that they will review their digital rights management strategy.
Sony has said that about 4.7 million CD's containing XCP have been shipped, and of these, about 2.1 million have been sold.
What to do: We recommend that you do not buy or install Sony BMG CDs that have the XCP technology on your computer.
First, check the list on the EFF site mentioned above to see if you own any of the CDs.
Unfortunately, this is not a complete list. EFF recommends two other steps to take:
- You can check the left front edge to see if the words "CONTENT PROTECTED" are included there.
- You can check the back of the CD on the bottom or right side to see if there is a disclosure box that says "Compatible with." It will also have a URL that includes: cp.sonybmg.com/xcp. This URL is a giveaway that XCP is installed on the CD.
Finally, update and run your antivirus software. Check to see if it includes the patches to delete, disable and prevent reinstallation of the Sony XCP technology.
We know this Snippet on the Sony rootkit was more technical than usual, but we felt it was very important information that you really need to know about since we didn't want you to unknowingly open your computer to malicious spyware, viruses and other security threats.
The True Stella Awards: A Brief Book Review
Randy Cassingham, creator of the This Is True website, has written an interesting new book called "The True Stella Awards: Honoring real cases of greedy opportunists, frivolous lawsuits, and the law run amok."
The Stella Awards (named after Stella Liebeck who sued McDonald's after she spilled coffee on herself) are conferred to the most frivolous lawsuits. The Guardian calls The Stella Awards the "Oscars of creative litigation."
The Stella Awards "honor" outlandish, ridiculous-but-true -- and very funny -- lawsuits and civil court abuse. Examples include:
- A man who changed his name to Jack Ass (legally), and then sued MTV for $50 million because their movie and TV show "Jackass" infringed on his trademark and demeaned his "good name."
- A lottery winner who sued because he felt he should have won more.
- A lawyer who sued Oreo cookies maker Nabisco because he wanted to get free publicity for a non-profit he started to publicize the dangers of trans fats.
Randy deals with a very serious subject in an exceptionally entertaining way. The Stella Awards make a great stocking stuffer for people who enjoy this type of humor. Available at Amazon and at bookstores and StellaAwards.com.
Is Your Driver's License Info Available on the Internet?
A number of subscribers sent us this email and asked us if it was a scam or identity theft...
--- Begin Email
Subject: Fwd: DRIVERS LICENSE
This is not a Joke!!!
Check your driver's license....
Now you can see anyone's Driver's License on the Internet,
including your own!
I just searched for mine and there it was...picture and all!
Thanks Homeland Security!
Privacy, where is our right to it?
I definitely removed mine, I suggest you all do the same.
Go to the website and check it out.
Just enter your Name, City and State to see if yours is on file.
After your license comes on the screen, click the box marked
This will remove it from public viewing, but not from law
Click here: http://www.license.shorturl.com/
DO IT NOW!!!
--- End Email
Answer: Actually, it's currently neither. It's a hoax and a joke.
There is no National Motor Vehicle License Bureau. The website is a parody. You can type in anyone's name, city and state -- and get a chuckle when you get back the result of their driver's license (complete with photograph).
Before we close, we thought you might like to see last week's most popular hoax page, which is on the Microsoft and/or AOL email hoax.
Time to wrap up. Wishing you a wonderful week.