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The Sony Copy-Protection Comedy Cavalcade

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In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: The Sony Copy-Protection Comedy Cavalcade
2. Today's Top Story
    - New Sober Worm Spoofs FBI, CIA
    - Opera Patches Flash Flaw
    - Verizon Sues Alleged Wireless Spammers
    - Microsoft Promises To Patch IE Zero-Day Bug
3. Breaking News
    - Google Testing Click-To-Call Service
    - NY Approves Verizon's Acquisition Of MCI
    - Report Warns Congress Of Eroding IT, Science Sectors
    - Senate Votes To Modernize Medical Records
    - Google Donates $3 Million To Help Scan More Rare Documents
    - In-Store Customer Service Gets Boost
    - Mobile TV Hits The Ground Running
    - AOL Launches Triton All-In-One Communications Service
4. In Depth: That's Entertainment!
    - Hollywood Hopes BitTorrent Deal Will Reduce Illegal Movie Downloads
    - TiVo Files Patent For RFID-Based Video Recorder
    - Xbox 360s Command High Prices On EBay
    - What's Inside The Xbox 360
    - iTunes Leaps Into Top Music Retailers
5. Voice Of Authority
    - Where Will Microsoft Place Its High-Performance Computing Bets?
6. White Papers
    - Top 10 Ways To Increase Enterprise Security While Reducing Costs
7. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
8. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quote of the day:
"Lawyers spend a great deal of their time shoveling smoke." -- Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.


1. Editor's Note: The Sony Copy-Protection Comedy Cavalcade

Watching Sony BMG stumble from one fiasco to another over its copy-protection technology is like watching a silent-movie comedy about a bungling waiter. He starts to lose control of a heavy tray of soups and desserts, and, in trying to regain his balance, yanks tablecloths to the floor; sends silverware, dishes, and food flying; and veers around the room, knocking over furniture and patrons, and generally spreading disaster all around.

Sony's efforts to extricate itself from its digital-rights-management scandal are a similarly spectacular series of pratfalls. But it's likely to have little long-term impact on Sony. Just some public embarrassment that Sony will quickly overcome, and fines that Sony can afford to pay.

The effects on business are much bigger. The fiasco is another demonstration of the power of bloggers to shape public opinion.

And the events also demonstrate yet again that consumer digital-rights-management technology doesn't work, and can't be made to work.

Early this month, security researchers disclosed that CDs distributed by Sony BMG used copy-protection software containing a "rootkit." A rootkit is a software toolkit designed to let hackers take control of target computers. It quite simply has no legitimate purpose.

In and of itself, that wouldn't have been any big deal. It was a grossly irresponsible error by Sony. But big companies are human institutions and imperfect like everything else done by human beings. The story would have been forgotten in days if Sony had simply done a quick mea culpa, promised to never do it again, and moved on.

But, instead, Sony refused to admit wrongdoing and chose to remain mostly silent, except for a moment or two insulting its critics and taking actions to make the matter worse.

A low point of Sony's PR campaign was when Thomas Hesse, Sony BMG's global digital business president, said in an interview on National Public Radio: "Most people, I think, don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?"

In other words: If you don't understand something, it can't be a threat. I guess that means if nobody tells you smoking is bad for you, then it's perfectly safe.

In one of the latest pratfalls in this comedy cavalcade, we discover that Sony's anti-piracy technology doesn't even work. Gartner analysts disclosed that it can be defeated by putting a sliver of Scotch tape on the right spot on the so-called "protected" disk.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the state of Texas have sued Sony under anti-piracy and anti-spyware laws. These laws were, no doubt, written with pimply-faced teenage hackers and organized crooks in mind, but instead it looks like these laws are going to be brought to bear against executives of multibillion-dollar multinational corporations trotting into court wearing thousand-dollar suits.

To read the rest of this note or to leave a comment, visit the InformationWeek Weblog.

Mitch Wagner
mwagner@cmp.com
www.informationweek.com


2. Today's Top Story

New Sober Worm Spoofs FBI, CIA
A fast-spreading variation on the long-running Sober worm is using extremely effective tactics to trick users.

Related Stories:
Opera Patches Flash Flaw

The Opera 8.5.1 update fixes a weeks-old bug in Flash, which could have allowed attackers to snatch control of a computer by getting users to run a malformed media file.

Verizon Sues Alleged Wireless Spammers
The company filed the suit in federal court against Passport Holidays and others who allegedly helped Passport send E-mails telling Verizon's customers they had won a cruise.

Microsoft Promises To Patch IE Zero-Day Bug
In the meantime, the company's advisory offers up several steps users can take to prevent an attack, including disabling active scripting and requiring IE to prompt before running active scripting.


3. Breaking News

Google Testing Click-To-Call Service
The service will allow users to speak over the phone to an advertiser found on the search engine's results page.

NY Approves Verizon's Acquisition Of MCI
The Public Service Commission's OK followed by just a few days the approval of the California Public Utilities Commission, and the deal can now close.

Report Warns Congress Of Eroding IT, Science Sectors
Among the depressing conclusions: A company can pay 11 engineers in India for the price of one in the United States. The report was commissioned by Congress and can be downloaded for a fee from the National Academies Press Web site.

Senate Votes To Modernize Medical Records
The bill encourages the government to establish public-private partnership to help streamline technology and help people have their medical information available at all times.

Google Donates $3 Million To Help Scan More Rare Documents
With the donation to the Library of Congress, Google becomes the first business to back the notion of an online library that will save items related to cultures outside the United States and Europe.

In-Store Customer Service Gets Boost
Best Buy tests a system that allows shoppers to touch a flat-panel screen and get questions answered from a live customer-service agent; the representative also can access the Internet to check prices and product availability, for instance.

Mobile TV Hits The Ground Running
The biggest design challenge remains battery power, as some reviewers criticize Apple Computer's Video iPod for delivering less than three hours of battery life.

AOL Launches Triton All-In-One Communications Service
America Online has taken out of beta its desktop application for instant messaging, E-mail, mobile text messaging, and other types of services.

All our latest news


----- The latest research, polls, and tools -----

Help Choose the Best Independent Tech Blog of 2005
The nominations for the second annual Blog-X Awards came fast and furious. We've winnowed down the list to 10 blogs. Cast your vote for the top independent tech blog! The winner will be revealed around Dec. 16 and will receive a $500 Starbucks coffee card.

A Week's Worth Of Dailies--All In One Place
Have you missed an issue or two of the InformationWeek Daily? Or want to check out some recent quotes of the day? Check out our Daily newsletter archive page and get caught up quickly.

Subscribe To Your Favorite Authors
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Security Defense
InformationWeek's U.S. Information Security 2005 research report documents the responses of 2,540 U.S. business-technology and security professionals and explores threat perceptions, security practices, and investment plans. The report also examines attack successes and their impact on business-technology operations.

-----------------------------------------


4. In Depth: That's Entertainment!

Hollywood Hopes BitTorrent Deal Will Reduce Illegal Movie Downloads
Bram Cohen, designer of the popular peer-to-peer file-sharing technology, agreed to remove links to pirated versions of movies from his Web site, bittorrent.com, frustrating people who search for illegal copies of films.

TiVo Files Patent For RFID-Based Video Recorder
The patent is for a personal video recorder that recognizes viewer preferences through an RFID chip embedded in clothing, jewelry, or somewhere in "the user's body."

Xbox 360s Command High Prices On EBay
Go-getters were grabbing the boxes on their first day of sale Tuesday and flipping them on eBay right away for hefty profits. Some customers were paying up to $2,500 for the unit, which retails for $299.

What's Inside The Xbox 360
Researchers say the estimated value of the components is $310. The retail price: $300. Microsoft may be looking to make up the loss by selling add-on products and services.

iTunes Leaps Into Top Music Retailers
Apple Computer's iTunes has become the first online music store to break into what has traditionally been a bricks-and-mortar universe.


5. Voice Of Authority

Where Will Microsoft Place Its High-Performance Computing Bets?
Aaron Ricadela says that, as Microsoft looks to become a contender in high-performance computing, scientists hope the company will be able to coax greater performance out of off-the-shelf computing languages such as Fortran and C.


6. White Papers

Top 10 Ways To Increase Enterprise Security While Reducing Costs
Companies must overcome the challenge at the core of E-business: how to securely and cost-effectively manage the expanding number of people, in a wide variety of roles, requesting access to information. The list of concepts in this paper significantly contributes to improved security in a cost-effective manner.


------- Webcasts -----------------------

Watch a Special Thanksgiving edition of The News Show

John Soat With 'Turkey Shoot!'
The five biggest turkeys in the tech world this year.

Also in the current episode:

Tim Moran As The Web Answer Man In 'Talking Turkey!'
The Web Answer Man with some of his favorite Thanksgiving Web sites. What sites have the best info about the holiday's history and some helpful hints for cooking your turkey.

Elena Malykhina With 'After-Turkey Shopping'
Why fight over parking spaces at the mall on "Black Friday" when you can find great online deals on "Cyber Monday," which is quickly becoming one of the best days of the year for E-commerce?

-----------------------------------------


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