everyone wants to “own” your PC

4 05 2006

Should a company be allowed to install whatever they want to on your PC?  Of course not!  But there’s a lot of people pushing for that these days.  This article is a really good read on that topic.  You’ll be surprised at how something is illegal if a person does it (like a virus) but a corporation can get away with it (like Sony’s rootkit).  And the issue (to some of us) is not just illegal things, but even some of the legal “automatic updates” that can corrupt your system and it’s not their fault.  It’s just too bad if you lose data because they upgraded their software without telling you.

I know there’s been a lot of articles about the Sony rootkit that was discovered last fall.  But there’s a whole lot more going on with that story than just a few CDs with a rootkit that automatically installs.  Click here for the real story of the Sony rootkit.  If you have any interest in this sort of thing, I highly recommend reading it. I’m not including any quotes on it because so much of it is good, and I’m not going to copy their whole article.

One more thing about the Sony rootkit, which isn’t in these articles :

Under the [XCP] program’s influence, Windows will deny the existence of any file, directory, process, or registry key whose name begins with “$sys$”.

So what does that mean to you?  If you played one of those infected audio CDs on your computer, you probably wouldn’t even know you had the rootkit installed.  And then if I were to put a virus or spyware app on your machine to steal your passwords or credit card info, and I named it something like $sys$stealyourinfo.exe, then you wouldn’t know.  Windows Explorer would lie to you, saying it’s not there.  Windows Task Manager would not show that it is running.  Even the Registry Editor would hide it from you.  So the rootkit causes your machine to lie to you.  Obviously that’s not moral, and it shouldn’t be legal, either.  And technically what Sony did was illegal, but the Department of Justice has never charged a big corporation with a computer crime.  *sigh*

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