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Another Sony Rootkit? 317

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the slow-learners dept.
An anonymous reader writes to tell us F-Secure is reporting that the drivers for Sony Microvault USB sticks uses rootkit techniques to hide a directory from the Windows API. "This USB stick with rootkit-like behavior is closely related to the Sony BMG case. First of all, it is another case where rootkit-like cloaking is ill advisedly used in commercial software. Also, the USB sticks we ordered are products of the same company — Sony Corporation. The Sony MicroVault USM-F fingerprint reader software that comes with the USB stick installs a driver that is hiding a directory under "c:\windows\". So, when enumerating files and subdirectories in the Windows directory, the directory and files inside it are not visible through Windows API. If you know the name of the directory, it is e.g. possible to enter the hidden directory using Command Prompt and it is possible to create new hidden files. There are also ways to run files from this directory. Files in this directory are also hidden from some antivirus scanners (as with the Sony BMG DRM case) — depending on the techniques employed by the antivirus software. It is therefore technically possible for malware to use the hidden directory as a hiding place."
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Another Sony Rootkit?

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  • Sony (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jshriverWVU (810740) on Monday August 27, 2007 @10:42AM (#20371527)
    What happened to Sony? Growing up they always seemed like a great tech company, pumping out quality products that most people liked. When did politics and this kinda crap really start. It's sad.
    • Re:Sony (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Prof.Phreak (584152) on Monday August 27, 2007 @10:46AM (#20371589) Homepage
      It started when they became an entertainment corp, rather than a technology corp.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by FatAlb3rt (533682)
      Seems like they've been pushing their own proprietary stuff for the past 20 yrs - most recently Blue Ray, but then there was that miniDisc that went nowhere. Not sure...did they have a roll in VHS/Beta? I used to be a fanboy, but it seems they get more negative press anymore.
      • Re:Sony (Score:4, Interesting)

        by king-manic (409855) on Monday August 27, 2007 @10:50AM (#20371667)
        Seems like they've been pushing their own proprietary stuff for the past 20 yrs - most recently Blue Ray, but then there was that miniDisc that went nowhere. Not sure...did they have a roll in VHS/Beta? I used to be a fanboy, but it seems they get more negative press anymore.

        MD disks were actually very successful across asia. They didn't find a market in North America. In the same span they have also created the 3.5 inch floppy, the CD, and had a bit of input on the DVD. It's be more accurate to describe their format strategies as being hit and miss since they have been part of some huge dogs (beta, UMD) and some very successful formats (CDs, 3.5 inch floppies).
        • Re:Sony (Score:5, Informative)

          by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@NosPaM.cornell.edu> on Monday August 27, 2007 @10:55AM (#20371731) Homepage
          CD was Philips, not Sony.

          As to DVD - Not sure about the original DVD format, but Sony effectively created the recordable DVD format war with the + series of formats.

          And yes, Sony had a role in VHS vs. Beta - Beta was Sony's format.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by omeomi (675045)
          Don't forget about Memory Stick, the solution to a problem that nobody has...a lack of choices among removable flash storage media.
          • Re:Sony (Score:5, Informative)

            by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Monday August 27, 2007 @11:58AM (#20372627) Homepage Journal
            But the Memory Stick had all sorts of advantages, like a useless DRM system and twice the price per bit of all of the competing flash solutions. It also capped out on capacity a lot quicker than its contemporaries. Who wouldn't want one?
          • Re:Sony (Score:5, Interesting)

            by mattpalmer1086 (707360) on Monday August 27, 2007 @12:06PM (#20372737)
            God, memory stick. I have a Sony phone, which is quite nice. I was recently in Tokyo, and I wanted some extra memory for my phone, so I went to Akihabara - geek central. All the sales assistants in about 20 shops I visited just looked at my phone, shrugged their shoulders and said "Sony!". My Japanese is pretty poor, but I got the message. So I went to the big Sony building at Ginza. No deal. They said they only sold memory sticks in the European market - they were using something else in Japan.

            Since I was there, I pulled out a Sony camera I was trying to get a USB cable for. Again, no deal. This camera was North American Sony, and they didn't have those kinds of Sony cables in Japan.

            Sigh. This insistence on ignoring standards and doing everything themselves - not even consistently across the world - bugs me like hell. I doubt I'll buy any more Sony consumer electronics until they get it. Hope they do - they know how to make nicely designed bits of technology.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SenseiLeNoir (699164)
          Yes, they were very successful with the 3.5 inch floppy.. also Trinitron screens, and the CD, which was co-developped with philips. They were also very successfull at putting DV/Firewire video in the hands of ordinary customers.

          yeah they made some lemons too, but like any tech company, that actually tries to invent stuff.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Not sure...did they have a roll in VHS/Beta?
        Yes. Beta was a proprietary Sony product, while VHS was what was being produced by almost everyone else.
        • Which shows that better marketing beats better technology...
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            No, it doesn't. I remember the VHS vs. Beta wars. Sony pulled out all the marketing stops, whlie VHS had virtually nothing. If there's one thing Sony has always been very good at, it's marketing.

            All it proves is that since you could get porn on VHS and you couldn't on Beta, people like porn, so they stuck with VHS.

            • Oversimplification (Score:3, Informative)

              by Phil John (576633)
              It wasn't just the availability of adult titles. What really scuppered BETA was the short length of the tapes compared to what was available with VHS.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by tsa (15680)
              Yes it does. Remember video 2000 [wikipedia.org]? It was by far the best video system out there. It could show stationary pictures that were really stationary, fast-forward and -backward without the annoying lines in the picture, and you could swap the cassette like an audio cassette and record on the other side. The story goes that it failed because Philips refused to put porn on the cassettes, which is of course very bad marketing :)
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by OldeTimeGeek (725417)
              I bought my first VCR in 1977, so I was there. Sony marketed Beta to people that were willing to pay a premium for quality (just like they did with their TVs). JVC licensed VHS to every other manufacturer and let them do the marketing. And new development. It would have been a good trick for Sony when they still owned the professional market and could have lived with a smaller portion of the whole pie. Sony would live with the high end and concede the rest of the market to VHS. Unfortunately for them, the "
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Which shows that better marketing beats better technology...

            The proliferation of Windows and the proliferation of x86 processors is the ultimate proof of that statement.
    • Re:Sony (Score:5, Insightful)

      by plover (150551) * on Monday August 27, 2007 @10:47AM (#20371613) Homepage Journal
      It happened when they added a movie studio and a recording label to the corporation. The media side of the house demanded copy protection from the technical side of the house, without understanding the technical limitations.
    • Re:Sony (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Otter (3800) on Monday August 27, 2007 @10:54AM (#20371717) Journal
      When did politics and this kinda crap really start.

      Hype here notwithstanding, this is not a "rootkit". It seems to be a bizarre form of write-protection.

      • Re:Sony (Score:5, Informative)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) <<akaimbatman> <at> <gmail.com>> on Monday August 27, 2007 @11:15AM (#20372009) Homepage Journal
        Yes, it is a rootkit. It's modifying the kernel space to hide directories from the user. There are better ways of doing such a thing, but a rootkit has the advantage of keeping the files hidden from common methods of hidden-file detection. Something like a virus or trojan would tend to use a kit like this to make sure that it couldn't be found by antivirus software. Such kits also tend to mask the presence of their processes, just to make sure that they REALLY can't be detected.
        • Re:Sony (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Monday August 27, 2007 @11:24AM (#20372149) Homepage Journal
          If it is a rootkit or not seems to me an academic question. I prefer to be asking: is my computer more vulnerable?
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by AKAImBatman (238306)

            is my computer more vulnerable?

            Generally, yes. A virus could check for the existence of one of these rootkits, and abuse its hidden locations to hide itself. Which means that a virus can hide from even rootkit detectors in the shadow of "legitimate" software.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by dougmc (70836)

          Yes, it is a rootkit. It's modifying the kernel space to hide directories from the user.

          That's not what a rootkit [catb.org] [definition] does. It might be one part of what many rootkits do, but it's not the purpose of a rootkit.

          The purpose of a rootkit is to let you get back in easily later, or once you're in, to let you get `root' easily. The Bioshock SecuROM thing *is* a rootkit -- the service it installs is there to let the SecuROM stuff run as a privileged account, and that's what rootkits do (it's also what things like `su' do.) But merely hiding a directory doesn't make it a rootkit. (It

    • Re:Sony (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ajs (35943) <ajs@@@ajs...com> on Monday August 27, 2007 @11:07AM (#20371907) Homepage Journal
      I posted this on the firehose version of this article. Thought I should do so here too:

      Please note: this software simply creates a directory that is hidden from the Windows API for its fingerprint authentication. It's not actually a rootkit, just using one of the many tools of the trade of rootkits. The concern is that the hidden directory is hidden from all of the Windows API, including virus scanners, and thus could be used by malicious software to hide infected files.

      I'm not sure that it's reasonable to accuse Sony of distributing a rootkit when they've simply distributed software which uses a technique that could accidentally help malicious software.

      It's also probably a bad thing to keep swinging the rootkit-bat around like this. The next time some large corporation really tries to root all of their customers' machines, no one will believe the story.
      • Re:Sony (Score:5, Informative)

        by harrkev (623093) <<kfmsd> <at> <harrelsonfamily.org>> on Monday August 27, 2007 @11:19AM (#20372091) Homepage

        Please note: this software simply creates a directory that is hidden from the Windows API for its fingerprint authentication. It's not actually a rootkit


        Please note the defenition of "rootkit," ripped from the beginning of the rootkit wikipedia article:

        A rootkit is a set of software tools intended to conceal running processes, files or system data from the operating system.


        If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, yada yada yada.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by spikedvodka (188722)
          at this point, where it "looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and smells like a duck"

          I'm almost tempted to buy one, just so that I can submit the software to clamav, symantec, mcafee, et. al.

          It looks like a virus, quacks like a virus, and smells like a virus, lets treat it like a virus
        • by IBBoard (1128019) on Monday August 27, 2007 @12:22PM (#20372965) Homepage

          If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck,...

          Then lawyers for some large corporation will argue that it's actually some previously rare form of feathered marsupial?
        • Re:Sony (Score:5, Informative)

          by ajs (35943) <ajs@@@ajs...com> on Monday August 27, 2007 @12:27PM (#20373065) Homepage Journal

          Please note the defenition of "rootkit," ripped from the beginning of the rootkit wikipedia article:

          A rootkit is a set of software tools intended to conceal running processes, files or system data from the operating system.


          If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, yada yada yada.
          This is a naive definition (I'll edit it later, with appropriate sources). Many programs attempt to conceal files which are not rootkits. Rootkits are the core of a type of software that seeks to hide its own existence. This Sony software does no such thing. You can see the software. You can remove the software. You can view every one of the software's files. Even F-Secure said that they believed the software was designed only with the security of the thumbnail drive data in mind, not with any subversion of the host (like the real Sony rootkit that got them in so much trouble). It only seeks to protect sensitive biometric data which should not be visible to all programs) from the normal Windows API. Again, I'm not defending how they did this. It's poor design, as it has huge security implications. However, it's not a rootkit, but a poorly designed driver.

          We need to be more careful to cry wolf when there's, you know... a wolf. Otherwise, when some company decides to deploy a real rootkit again, no one is going to listen to us.
          • by KingSkippus (799657) * on Monday August 27, 2007 @12:47PM (#20373297) Homepage Journal

            It only seeks to protect sensitive biometric data which should not be visible to all programs) from the normal Windows API.

            The intentions behind the software are irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what it does. What this software does is an end-run around the operating system, deliberately hiding things that should not and need not be hidden.

            Why shouldn't it be hidden? Because as has already been pointed out, malicious software can take advantage of the rootkit—which is what this is—as an attack vector to control someone's machine without their knowledge, and with damn little they can do about it.

            Please remember also that a lot of computer viruses and worms didn't start out with people saying, "I'm going to write a computer virus today!" They started out with someone saying, "Hmmm... I wonder if that would work..." and it goes from there. In fact, the guy who is credited with writing the first computer virus [slashdot.org] said, "It was a practical joke combined with a hack. A wonderful hack." Maybe, but it's stupid to deny what it was, a virus, just as it is to deny what this is, a rootkit.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by ajs (35943)

              It only seeks to protect sensitive biometric data which should not be visible to all programs) from the normal Windows API.

              The intentions behind the software are irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what it does.

              Correct.

              What this software does is an end-run around the operating system, deliberately hiding things that should not and need not be hidden.

              Mostly True. I'm not sure I agree with "should not and need not," but I'll grant that they did it the wrong way. No question.

              The bottom line is that this is not a rootkit. It's simply not. The term rootkit refers to a class of software that hides its existence from the OS, and this software does not do that. There's also the matter of the goal (you mentioned intent, but I think goals are more quantifiable and measurable). Rootkits have as their goal the subversion of system security. It doesn't ma

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Alioth (221270)
      Where have all the rootkits gone?
            Long time passing
      Where have all the rootkits gone?
            Long, long ago
      Sony picked them, every one.
            When will they ever learn?
            When will they ever learn.
  • Consider (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nlitement (1098451) on Monday August 27, 2007 @10:43AM (#20371545)

    It is therefore technically possible for malware to use the hidden directory as a hiding place.
    Isn't software behaving like that already considered malware?
    • Re:Consider (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wizardforce (1005805) on Monday August 27, 2007 @10:52AM (#20371685) Journal

      Isn't software behaving like that already considered malware?
      yes and no. it depends on what and how you use it. if you use the property of hiding directories as a simple way of keeping data from less experienced people [eg. slashdotters hiding the porn from their parents] then it isn't malware; in this case sony's software doesn't seem to be hding a directory for any good purpose, so yes it is malware.
      • Re:Consider (Score:5, Insightful)

        by B'Trey (111263) on Monday August 27, 2007 @10:59AM (#20371793)
        No. The distinction is WHO's doing the hiding. If a user on the computer intentionally hides files or directories from other possible users on the computers, it's not malware. It may or may not be ethical, depending on who's doing the hiding and why. Presumably, it's the owner of the computer and they have a right to hid info from prying eyes. If not, the issue is with the user's actions and not with the software. If, however, a program creates files or directories and hides them (by means other than simply using the H attribute, at least) from the owner/user of the computer, it's malware. It's understandable for a content owner to wish to protect their content, but that doesn't justify them altering the behavior of a computer without the owner's express understanding and permission for what they're doing.
  • Hidden files (Score:5, Insightful)

    by king-manic (409855) on Monday August 27, 2007 @10:43AM (#20371549)
    Is root kit now the new buzzword for "please send me traffic"? This isn't the same as a rootkit, it's just a annoyingly hidden directory. Can we tag this as FUD?
    • by Carewolf (581105)
      Depends on how it accieves it. Hiding stuff is one of the primary functions of rootkits, though usually to hide themselves.
    • Re:Hidden files (Score:5, Insightful)

      by j00r0m4nc3r (959816) on Monday August 27, 2007 @10:48AM (#20371633)
      It doesn't matter what their intent is, they are using rootkit techniques to hide shit on your computer. This allows other parties to piggyback on that tech and install other nastier UNDETECTABLE malware. It would be like if your house cleaning lady leaves your front door wide open when she leaves. Someone could stroll in, fuck your shit up, and leave undetected. Definitely something to seriously worry about.
      • It doesn't matter what their intent is, they are using rootkit techniques to hide shit on your computer. This allows other parties to piggyback on that tech and install other nastier UNDETECTABLE malware. It would be like if your house cleaning lady leaves your front door wide open when she leaves. Someone could stroll in, fuck your shit up, and leave undetected. Definitely something to seriously worry about.

        However any old program can also do similar things by creating badly formated directory names. Rootk
        • >There are many files that employ the hidden property (like thumbs.db).

          However, by clicking "Show Hidden Files and Directories" they are made visible. This, apparently, is not. This is not OK. It allows things to be hidden from scanners and from the owner of the machine, me. That makes it malware.
    • Re:Hidden files (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Applekid (993327) on Monday August 27, 2007 @10:50AM (#20371653)
      Hiding from the API is pretty important, actually. That's done by pulling the rug under the pointers to the functions that retreives lists of files/directories. If that's not a Windows rootkit, what is?

      And much like their last rootkit, this one can easily be used to cloak files on your system and is pretty much a fantastic place to put your virus. Way to really push the limits, guys.
    • Re:Hidden files (Score:5, Informative)

      by MontyApollo (849862) on Monday August 27, 2007 @10:50AM (#20371669)
      First sentence from wikipedia article:

      "A rootkit is a set of software tools intended to conceal running processes, files or system data from the operating system"

      So, it sounds like a rootkit as described by wikipedia.
  • Format before use (Score:4, Interesting)

    by VincenzoRomano (881055) on Monday August 27, 2007 @10:44AM (#20371559) Homepage Journal
    Maybe formatting USB memories before usage would be a good move.
    And using OS that won't run anything from the newly attached memry as a default would also help.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by djdbass (1037730)
      Yeah just stick it in your pc and format it before you stick it in your....

      Wait...
    • by jimicus (737525)
      Maybe formatting USB memories before usage would be a good move.

      It might, but this is a biometric USB memory stick - it requires a fingerprint before you can access files.

      Most of these devices do the fingerprint reading in software, so without it you may as well buy a normal memory stick and save a bit of money. (On a side note: has anyone seriously investigated how secure these biometric memory sticks are?).

      And using OS that won't run anything from the newly attached memry as a default would also help.

      Goo
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by penix1 (722987)

        On a side note: has anyone seriously investigated how secure these biometric memory sticks are?


        Well, if it is anything like the ones for security doors that are being pushed as "unbeatable" on Homeland Security then yes. The Myth Busters did a whole thing on it and beat it not once, not twice, but ALL the tries they did.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LA4Xx5Noxyo [youtube.com]
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Bob of Dole (453013)
          "If these USB memory cards are just like doors, then this mythbusters episode is relevant!"

          Come on man, I know mythbusters is cool and all, but whaaaaaaaaaaaaat
  • I'd really rather not have this 'capability' when using windows, to allow software to hide files/directories on my system through these registry/filesystem techniques.

    Is there anything that would break if one was to find a way to nullify this functionality in OS calls?

    Ryan Fenton

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by BronsCon (927697)

      Is there anything that would break if one was to find a way to nullify this functionality in OS calls?

      No. But, the universe would begin to unravel as Windows became more secure.

      Yes. That flushing sound you hear is my karma going down the toilet.
  • Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    How many lawsuits is it going to take before Sony gets it into their head that rootkit=bad? I, for one, am going to fight against our new malware overlords.
    • Bah!! There is enough info and history about Sony doing this. If someone has their computer (or whatever) screw up because they bought some root-kit-ish containing Sony product, then they deserve what they get. A lawsuit is not needed. Just stop buying their crap.
  • tsk tsk tsk... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JazzyMusicMan (1012801) on Monday August 27, 2007 @10:47AM (#20371609)
    They are simply conditioning a public growing weary of dishonest tactics and policies to steer clear of any products they produce. Sony has many divisions and has a presence in many markets, and they are royally screwing all of them up. First the music cd fiasco, now this, no wonder they were prematurely blasted for the SecuROM program that was talked about on here a few days ago. Most people automatically saw it as a rootkit or something they didn't want on their computer because of the record that Sony is establishing for itself. It doesn't matter that maybe it wasn't a rootkit or something malicious, if the public starts thinking that everything you produce is going to create security vulnerabilities and screw up their machine, they'll simply stay away without giving you a second (or third, [or fourth]) chance...
  • kiosk (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SolusSD (680489) on Monday August 27, 2007 @10:47AM (#20371615) Homepage
    It seems to me that our personal computers are becoming more and more like kiosks where "vendors" install software they want and the "end users", ie) us, have less and less control over our own PCs. Think about it- DRM, (truly) hidden folders, subscriptino software, product activation, ..vista?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jshriverWVU (810740)
      that's why some people are moving to linux and OS X. No matter what your believe on open vs closed source code. Linux is more "free" as in "freedom" than Windows, you don't hear people complaining about putting in a CD/DVD/USB key and having their system owned by some root-kit or DRM system that was installed w/o intervention. The freedom to own and do what I want with my hardware makes Linux a necessity. I agree with you. Running windows anymore is like running a kiosk. You pay for the hardware, and the so
    • by Idaho (12907)

      It seems to me that our personal computers are becoming more and more like kiosks where "vendors" install software they want and the "end users", i.e. us, have less and less control over our own PCs. Think about it- DRM, (truly) hidden folders, subscriptino software, product activation, ..vista?


      It seems to me that you are making the classic mistake of saying "personal computers" when you really mean "computers running Microsoft Windows".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by swb (14022)
      You're not kidding.

      I keep trying to convince my customers they'll pay me less money in the long run to do clean setups on new machines versus the time spent both uninstalling conflicting software they won't/can't use (ie, Symantec AV, PDF Complete, etc) and the problems they inevitably run into down the road when the factory installed crapware craps the machine out, requiring a clean load anyway.

      I've pretty much quit gaming due to all the copy protection crap that gets installed with most modern games (and
  • Wow... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shoptroll (544006) on Monday August 27, 2007 @10:49AM (#20371639)
    Did anyone read the article before coming up with the post title? They say right in the middle of the article that it's not a rootkit, and "It is our belief that the MicroVault software hides this folder to somehow protect the fingerprint authentication from tampering and bypass. It is obvious that user fingerprints cannot be in a world writable file on the disk when we are talking about secure authentication. However, we feel that rootkit-like cloaking techniques are not the right way to go here."

    This is also nothing new in terms of USB drives. I have a USB flash drive, which I can't remember the name of, that essentially keeps a secure partition hidden from Windows unless you run a special app to put in a password to make it visible to Windows.
    • Did anyone read the article before coming up with the post title?

      Even if it turns out to be a misleading headline, I can live with Sony being vilified some more. I'd consider it appropriate collateral payback for their original rootkit foray.

    • by LarsG (31008)
      Other programs (i.e. malware) can use the hidden directory to hide themselves. Not to mention potential stability problems caused by the software altering core OS functions.

      Password protected hidden partitions don't patch OS function pointers and can't really be (ab)used by malware in the same way, so not the same thing.
    • Did anyone read the article before coming up with the post title?
      Apparently you did not.

      They say right in the middle of the article that it's not a rootkit
      Where? They do not claim that it is a rootkit, but they consistently describe its behavior as "rootkit-like".
      • by shoptroll (544006)
        Since when is something x if it is x-like?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MontyApollo (849862)
          It all depends on your definition. What was described in the article satisfies many people's definition of a rootkit, no matter how the authors chose to word it.

          Everybody saying it is not a rootkit needs to define rootkit.

          The example you used in your earlier post about partitions on memory sticks is completely different than what is happening here (the windows API is being modified to hide a directory on the c: drive)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by makomk (752139)
      That depends on your definition of "rootkit". It's using a driver to conceal the existence of a directory from standard Windows APIs and programs, which is very definitely a rootkit technique.
    • by gad_zuki! (70830)
      If article contains word 'rootkit' then lots and lots of pageviews.

      Example: See Bioshock.

      I'm really getting sick of this. Its like the C-class bloggers and clueless tech writers have discovered a magic word that gets them all the ad impressions they want, and techies dont seem to care as the exposure just lets them bitch and moan. Facts be damned.
    • My Disgo USb drive does this. Will it did till I deleted the software/partition.

    • Re:Wow... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Idaho (12907) on Monday August 27, 2007 @11:28AM (#20372211)

      Did anyone read the article before coming up with the post title? They say right in the middle of the article that it's not a rootkit, and "It is our belief that the MicroVault software hides this folder to somehow protect the fingerprint authentication from tampering and bypass.

      The intent is irrelevant w.r.t. the fact whether or not it uses rootkit-like behavior to implement it.


        It is obvious that user fingerprints cannot be in a world writable file on the disk when we are talking about secure authentication.


      This is why file access permissions/restrictions where invented in the 1970's.

      This is also nothing new in terms of USB drives. I have a USB flash drive, which I can't remember the name of, that essentially keeps a secure partition hidden from Windows unless you run a special app to put in a password to make it visible to Windows.


      That is a completely different technique at about 10 different levels. Of course the driver of some USB device may chose to reserve parts of the storage on said USB device for internal usage such that it cannot be (easily) accessed by normal means (i.e. the API offered by said driver). However, "cloaking" parts of the driver itself using rootkit-like mechanisms has, well, about nothing in common with such techniques.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by The MAZZTer (911996)

      This is also nothing new in terms of USB drives. I have a USB flash drive, which I can't remember the name of, that essentially keeps a secure partition hidden from Windows unless you run a special app to put in a password to make it visible to Windows.

      That's different. Windows can't "see" more than one partition on a USB flash drive... which is why the Disk Management MMC snap-in won't let you create more. If you make more than one partition Windows only mounts the first one it sees.

      Of course this assumes you're talking about actual partitions. More likely you're confusing a virtual drive for a real partition; I'm thinking TrueCrypt [truecrypt.org], which is promoted by many as a way to keep files safe and encrypted on your thumb drive. You enter a password and

  • A Nasty Trick (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sigismundo (192183) on Monday August 27, 2007 @10:56AM (#20371737)
    It reminds me of the time that some friends and I discovered that a labmate had left himself logged in as root on a virtual console at his Linux workstation. Here's what we did:
    1. Created a directory with the name " " (single space)
    2. Added that directory to his path
    3. Wrote a Perl script that would spit out a random quote from zippy 1/3 of the time, and then execute the program pointed to by argv[0]
    4. Populated the special hidden directory with symlinks to the perl script, each given the name of a common command like ls, ps, and so on.

    So whenever he ran a common command from his shell, he would first get a random quote from fortune appearing, followed by normal command output. He figured it out pretty quickly, but I like to think that there were a few moments where he entertained the idea of his workstation gaining sentience.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MrBulwark (862510)
      See, if you had a real OS like Windows, this kind of security problem wouldn't...oh...nevermind.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sholden (12227)
      Whenever people left themselves logged in (not as root, since no one used root...) we'd always add

      echo sleep 1 >>$HOME/.bash_profile

      to their .bash_profile

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

    How fucking stupid can you people be? Stop buying Sony! [mcgrew.info]

    -mcgrew
  • by swschrad (312009) on Monday August 27, 2007 @11:15AM (#20372015) Homepage Journal
    down around the courthouse, they have some terms for mutts who don't learn and keep on doing the same crimes.

    the classy term is "recidivist."

    of the others, we can probably safely post "weasel," "snake," "bastard," "crook," and "lowlife."

    HDTV is around the bend, and I'm remodelling the basement soon to accomodate its new wiring requirements. Sony, the snake-in-a-box company, is not going to be a part of this undertaking.
  • Desensitized (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dachannien (617929) on Monday August 27, 2007 @11:19AM (#20372079)
    The overuse of the term "rootkit" points to (at least) one thing: we've become so desensitized to security hazards that it takes a new buzzword for nefariousness to grab people's attention. Regardless of whether this is itself a rootkit or not, it's still a security hazard, and what's perhaps more ironic, that hazard was created in an attempt to effect "security through obscurity".

  • This is no longer an accident with Sony. No longer a simple lapse in judgment. This is a bad, ugly, habit on their part now, likely caused by the dichotomy of trying to be a content producer and a tech company at the same time.
  • Last straw for me... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SlashdotCrackPot (1019530) on Monday August 27, 2007 @11:48AM (#20372491)
    I just had to go admit to my damn boss that I (a diligent (also been referred to as 'anal') security minded individual) that thanks to my "handy" pen-drive that at LEAST 25-30 of our client's servers, not to mention our office equipment now have root-kits on them. That was it for me, now I just have to find a replacement product for the several ux380 we were looking at for toys for the boys.

    I imagine though, that an outburst of uncontrollable laughter from my boss while telling him about this is a sign of job security.

    Is there an anti-rootkit utility that would be updated/recent enough to facilitate this infection? Or the fact that I can view it from command line mean that I can remove it manually from there? I don't have to worry about re-infection because I already threw 2 of them straight in the trash, no use even giving them to a friend.....
  • by dpilot (134227) on Monday August 27, 2007 @12:49PM (#20373333) Homepage Journal
    For a moment get past the Rootkit or Registry thing.

    I just plain isn't good security. If they're really counting on Registry entries to "protect" the "secure" data, there must be a thousand ways to get around that in Windows, let along just plugging it into a Linux machine. Real security is HARD to do, and promoting something like this as "secure" when it really isn't is a disservice. I read one review a while back that indicated that *none* of these "secure USB" flash plugins were really secure.

    Incidentally, I have a USB flash plugin. The data I really care about is AES-encrypted in a container file that I can loopback mount and use the kernel crypto stuff to access.
  • A propos... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Mr_Icon (124425) on Monday August 27, 2007 @12:54PM (#20373395) Homepage
    A humorous story about what would happen if porn had "root kits." [google.com] (SFW)
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday August 27, 2007 @01:22PM (#20373707) Journal
    Let's see if I can get even more karma by posting this old poem I wrote on Sony last year:

    Well the Devil had a brand new plan,
    "I don't want any ordinary DRM!"
    So he called his boys at Sony Corp,
    "I'll make this fast and I'll make it short."

    "There's a Limey company, as evil as hell,
    They've got a rootkit they're waiting to sell.
    So grab some cash, make it quick,
    There's a half million networks we just gotta fix."

    Now Sony knew the Devil well,
    Why these guys were already half way to Hell.
    So off they went to England fair,
    And bought themselves a rootkit there.

    To protect themselves and their evil scheme,
    They wrote a EULA that would make you scream.
    "No problem," they said, "we can do as we please,
    We're all scummy bastards, so what's some more sleaze?"

    But not all were asleep when they played Van Zant,
    And the racket grew so loud Sony just had to recant.
    "We'll take back all those discs, we really were wrong,
    Oh, and you Mac users, your turn's coming before long."

Prototype designs always work. -- Don Vonada

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