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Computer Associates Joins Battle Against Sony Copy Protection Software

It's spyware, says the security vendor. And, while Sony has sent out patches and uninstallers which it claims fixes the problems, in fact that software is spyware too.
Curry said that his group was also digging into Sony's process for users who request an uninstaller because that has spyware characteristics as well. "The uninstaller is an ActiveX control, which is generally considered a security problem," said Curry, "but the removal process also requires users to give up personal information." That information includes their name, e-mail address, the albums purchased, and the places of purchase.

An unknown amount of data is also sent by the ActiveX uninstaller to First4Internet, claimed Curry, and the copy protection causes the system hard drive to read so frequently that it "becomes nearly constant, and could damage the hardware," he added.

"This isn't an issue about artists' rights, it's an issue about users' rights. The computer is more than a gloried CD player."

CA recommended that users disable Windows' Autorun feature for CDs to prevent the rootkit and other files from automatically installing. Directions for doing so can be found here. Curry also promised that PestPatrol will include detection and deletion of the offending software on Nov. 12. In other news related to Sony's under-siege copy-protection, an Italian organization called the ALCEI-EFI (Association for Freedom in Electronic Interactive Communications- Electronic Frontiers Italy) filed a complaint last week with Italy's cyber-crime investigation unit. ALCEI-EFI asked the head of the unit, Colonel Umberto Rapetto of the Guardia di Finanza, to identify the author(s) of the copy-protection software, because the Sony scheme broke several Italian computer security laws.

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Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
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Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing