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Security Bug

Asus Ships Cracking Software On Recovery DVD 263

Posted by timothy
from the cold-sweat-in-taiwan dept.
Barence writes "Asus is accidentally shipping software crackers and confidential documents on the recovery DVDs that come with its laptops. The startling discovery was made by a PC Pro reader whose antivirus software was triggered by a key cracker for the WinRAR compression software, which was located on the recovery DVD for his Asus laptop. Along with the key cracker the disc also contained confidential Asus documents including a PowerPoint presentation that details 'major problems' identified by the company, including application compatibility issues. The UK reader is not alone, either — several users in the US and Australia have also found suspicious files on Asus discs."
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Asus Ships Cracking Software On Recovery DVD

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  • by maz2331 (1104901) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @08:49AM (#25038073)

    Someone is getting fired, and Asus is going to be getting sued.

    • by petwalrus (645792) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @08:59AM (#25038247) Journal
      I suspect perhaps they already were getting fired anyhow and decided to leave behind a 'legacy' they could be remembered for.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Four_One_Nine (997288)
      It's truly amazing how difficult it is to fire people in many organizations, so I doubt it is a guarantee that anyone will be fired.

      However this is exactly the kind of public exposure of software piracy that the offended companies can use to boost earnings.

      Firings=No Lawsuits=Yes

    • by adpsimpson (956630) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @09:12AM (#25038457)

      Was it not Windows XP, before any service packs, which came with a file in the 'My Videos' which, when opened in a text editor, showed the cracked software version used to create it?

      Did anyone ever lose their jobs over that one?

      I've had a look on Google but searching for "Windows pirate video" only has one or two results...

      • by Skrynesaver (994435) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @09:25AM (#25038663) Homepage
        It was in the wav files used in the XP tour introduction thinghy

        LISTB INFOICRD 2000-04-06 IENG Deepz0ne ISFT Sound Forge 4.5

        Was present in the files, a sign that a pirated version of Sound Forge from Deepz0ne of the Radium warez crew.

      • by Miamicanes (730264) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @10:24AM (#25039539)

        > Was it not Windows XP, before any service packs, which came with a file in the 'My Videos' which, when opened in a text editor,
        > showed the cracked software version used to create it?

        This was apparently surprising only to people who don't work for companies that actually make it easy for developers to BUY software without having to get approval up the management chain all the way up to god himself. Half the software my co-workers and I use ends up being pirated, because our company makes it damn near impossible to buy anything that's not on the list of officially-sanctioned software (almost all of which is stuff that the "business" users need). I can blow $150 on lunch when I'm traveling without even needing to get my immediate manager to sign off an approve the reimbursement as long as I don't spend more than $250/day on meals/incidentals/entertainment, but getting reimbursed $29.95 for some shareware app I can't live without requires approval by the vice-president (my boss' boss' boss), who requires our department to submit purchase requests in batches no more than once per quarter. Of course, if we're 5 weeks into the current quarter, and I need the damn app TODAY (or at least by next week)... well... time to visit astalavista.box.sk (under vmware, of course) to get the crack and run the app (also under vmware, with write access to nothing besides a usb thumbdrive, of course).

        Personally, I think 99% of free software's appeal to people who work for big, oblivious corporations is the fact that it's not just free as in beer or liberty... it's also free of bureaucratic grief.

        Getting back to the Microsoft example... name any app produced by Microsoft that does something remotely close to what SoundForge does. Um, none? OK, now picture the hapless employee, who works for the largest software company on earth, dealing with THEIR bureaucracy trying to get permission to buy a program sold by one of their "competitors", even though it's a niche they don't actually compete in. Especially with a looming deadline.

        Or, alternatively... picture Microsoft hiring an outside consultant/musician to do the track. To save money, they hired a freelancer who's just getting started and doesn't quite do it as his/her "real" job yet. The individual hasn't gotten to the point yet where he/she's making enough money off of it for buying it to be a no-brainer (It IS usually one of the first 3 apps anyone who becomes halfway serious about music production ends up buying when "the time comes"), and the employees at the Microsoft end responsible for getting it on the disc were themselves under immense deadline pressure. The file played, normal users aren't going to view it in a hex editor looking for anything "funny", so on the disc it went.

        • by umrguy76 (114837) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @10:37AM (#25039757) Homepage

          I can blow $150 on lunch when I'm traveling without even needing to get my immediate manager to sign off an approve the reimbursement as long as I don't spend more than $250/day on meals/incidentals/entertainment, but getting reimbursed $29.95 for some shareware app I can't live without requires approval by the vice-president (my boss' boss' boss), who requires our department to submit purchase requests in batches no more than once per quarter.

          Does that $150 lunch reside on your company's network?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by FictionPimp (712802)

          We are only allowed to make purchases once a year. I simply make my request, they go on a capital list, we have a department meet and discuss why, then it is sent up for approval and i get my software.

          I just make sure to plan for the year. It's not too hard. I know what my job is and I keep a good eye on what tools are out there to make it better/easier. Sure I can't have the latest Adobe product the day it launches, but I can get it the next capital cycle.

          • by WNight (23683) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @03:39PM (#25044733) Homepage

            Why do people like you crawl out of the woodwork, just to inform actual useful people, that you don't have an issue with X?

            You certainly would have an issue with that policy, if you did anything complex enough to require you to do something you didn't plan last year. All you're doing is making yourself look like someone who doesn't actually do anything, or who always does exactly the same thing.

            Why are you proud of being a do-nothing?

        • by Thaelon (250687)

          I can blow $150 on lunch when I'm traveling without even needing to get my immediate manager to sign off an approve the reimbursement as long as I don't spend more than $250/day on meals/incidentals/entertainment, but getting reimbursed $29.95 for some shareware app I can't live without requires approval by the vice-president (my boss' boss' boss), who requires our department to submit purchase requests in batches no more than once per quarter.

          So go to "lunch" and "entertain" a software development company

        • by MadMidnightBomber (894759) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @11:26AM (#25040509)

          Personally, I think 99% of free software's appeal to people who work for big, oblivious corporations is the fact that it's not just free as in beer or liberty... it's also free of bureaucratic grief.

          Plus licensing. Ever played with flexlm, or tried to figure out how many Microsoft CALs you need? No need with GNU - saves a ton of time and potential liability.

        • by grassy_knoll (412409) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @11:34AM (#25040643) Homepage

          Personally, I think 99% of free software's appeal to people who work for big, oblivious corporations is the fact that it's not just free as in beer or liberty... it's also free of bureaucratic grief.

          Indeed.

          Finding cracked software on your machine around here is a fireable offense. Open source is seen as a viable alternative.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by wud (709053)
      I don't think asus will get sued by winrar. This is obviously an accident, and im sure asus has purchased legal copies, or atleast they have now. Now they might get sued by Microsoft for violating the nda.
    • Maybe someone will go to jail, too.

  • by TheNecromancer (179644) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @08:49AM (#25038075)

    Do they come with cheese?

  • Cue lawsuit.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CdBee (742846) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @08:49AM (#25038077)
    Asus, however accidentally / carelessly, have just made themselves the obvious target of a lawsuit for distribution of tools for copyright infringement...
  • by Verteiron (224042) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @08:52AM (#25038125) Homepage

    If only they'd used 7zip instead! Oh, you fools!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @08:58AM (#25038217)

    To that person: If your goal was to get your resume noticed, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

    • by sorak (246725)

      To that person: If your goal was to get your resume noticed, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

      Yes, an rtf file, placed in a zipfile full of pirated software. I think we have finally found someone lamer than the freecreditreport.com guy.

  • by Spatial (1235392) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @08:58AM (#25038219)
    WinRAR is free to use, last time I checked it only asked you to buy it through a brief, unintrusive nag window. Cracking it is really damn lame.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @09:03AM (#25038315)

      I think the tool is actually for extracting the passwords for any protected archives created with the WinRAR application...

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by necro2607 (771790)

        Nice, I want a copy of that. Sounds like Asus is including some pretty useful utilities along with their new machines! Now there's a software bundle that for once might actually be of some use to me! ;)

      • by Spatial (1235392)
        Oho. In that case it's not exactly a big deal, although I have no idea why it would be on the disc.
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by Shikaku (1129753)
      7zip is also superior and free.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by spyrochaete (707033)
        7zip is not superior. It's incredibly slow. I've tried 7zip many times over the past couple of years, hoping it to finally be a superior product to the needlessly expensive WinRAR ($35!), but it never happens.

        Uncompressing a file in WinRAR consistently takes up to or over 10x as long to uncompress in 7zip. Try it yourself. WinRAR is even faster with .7z archives.

        I tested both products with WinXP x86, Vista Ultimate x86, and Vista Ultimate x64, all on the same 7200RPM SATA2 HDD.
        • tbf it is slightly slower, not 10x though. and why the fuck are you looking for speed for uncompressing something like a rar file? there are much better formats for fast compression decompression and apparently .7zip is better for flat out compression too.

          • It is definitely not slightly slower. For me, in my isolated but multiple tests, 7Zip was obscenely slow. I tried on many OSes on 2 PCs and the results were very similar. Your mileage may vary. Me, I won't try it again until the next major version.
        • by dubbreak (623656)

          Uncompressing a file in WinRAR consistently takes up to or over 10x as long to uncompress in 7zip. Try it yourself. WinRAR is even faster with .7z archives.

          So you are saying a file that takes 10 seconds in winrar could take upto 1m40s in 7zip? Or a file that takes 1 minute in winrar could take up to 10 minutes in 7zip?

          Please, at least give a believable factor.. yes you said "up to", but seriously in general is it even twice as slow? I doubt it. From my experience, no it's not and the time I save not clicking a nag banner makes it faster.

          If winrar is so superior to other zip software then why don't they advertise benchmarks? Seems like a great selling fe

          • Yes, in my tests it looked like it was going to take WELL over 10x as long to uncompress the same file in 7Zip. I can't say for certain because I took 7Zip's word for it when its estimate told me it would take about 33 hours to unzip a file that literally took 15 minutes in WinRAR.

            It's entirely possible that I used the product wrong or that there was a problem on both the PCs I tried, but if this was true then I'd rather use WinRAR simply because it worked better out of the box with no additional config
          • P.s., I waited about 10 minutes before cancelling that 33 hour uncompress, just in case the estimate adjusted itself. It didn't. P.p.s., rarlabs.com doesn't have much of a website at all, never mind marketing. Perhaps their excellent (but very overpriced) product speaks for itself.
          • I don't click the nag banner. I just right-click-drag and "Extract files here...".

        • by gbjbaanb (229885)

          Some FUD on /., who'd have thought :-) (not you though, some other posters say different things in reply to you).

          So, I thought I'd dl 7zipo and give it a whirl, then used the context menus to compress a few directories in the utility's native format (ie rar v 7z, 'cos I only care about the end-result not the format)


          1 wmv file: rar took 35sec, 7zip 20 sec. Neither compressed very well, rar was .1mb smaller, 7zip .1mb larger (on a 80Mb file so no difference to compression)

          a dir full of jpgs from my camera (23

        • Well obviously there is your problem. Your drive is apparently not compatible with 7zip. Duh.

      • by Nimey (114278)

        7zip's interface isn't all that friendly to n00bs. jZip's got a nice interface & the 7zip backend, but the license isn't Free and it doesn't support creating as many archives as 7z does.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @09:00AM (#25038263)
    Putting the CEO's dim-witted nephew Steve in charge of disc duplication seemed like such a good idea. I mean, how could anyone screw something THAT simple up, right?
  • by mandark1967 (630856) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @09:03AM (#25038311) Homepage Journal

    How the cracking software got onto the restore DVD as well as why it was even present at Asus in the first place.

    I can't imagine why a company like Asus would even "need" to crack software keys when they can, most likely, get it at a discount. I mean, it's not like Asus is a barely-scraping-by company that is unable to afford even simple tools.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Both Taiwan and mainland China, let alone Hong Kong, pirated software is easy to obtain. I'd place my bets on either of...

      1. The disc master's computer had this information
      2. The disc replication (usually china/taiwan) factory had this software, and someone didn't erase their image drive.

      I'd put more money on 1 due to the power point file about the company. This would suggest that it was done carelessly or intentionally and a whole lot of QC didn't happen before the disc got put in the box.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Asus is a Taiwanese company. You would be surprised how common pirated software is in Taiwan. If you buy a laptop, you would expect it to come with pirated software... I was surprised when a friend of mine bought an Apple's powerbook (through a third party vendor) and it came with pirated copies vmware, photoshop, etc.

    • by digitig (1056110)

      I mean, it's not like Asus is a barely-scraping-by company that is unable to afford even simple tools.

      Yet.

    • by rtechie (244489) * on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @11:51AM (#25040921)

      I can't imagine why a company like Asus would even "need" to crack software keys when they can, most likely, get it at a discount.

      Because keeping track of product keys is a hassle and having to fill out a PO for a $30 shareware app is a PITA.

  • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @09:07AM (#25038391) Journal

    A directory containing a large number of confidential Microsoft documents for PC manufacturers, including associated keys and program files

    I would think that this would be of much more interest than some cracking tool one can download. Even the Asus source code should be of more interest as it could be used to improve FLOSS support.

  • by Dystopian Rebel (714995) * on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @09:15AM (#25038487) Journal

    A guy burns a master CD while smoking a joint in Taiwan... Somewhere in Redmond, a large office chair is hurtled through a pane of glass.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Imagine my surprise when an immediate restart after driver installation off of an asus cd booted my computer into a broken version of freedos. An explanation written 4 years ago of what happened to me is here: http://www.freedos.org/freedos/news/technote/211.html
     

  • I don't know about anyone else, but I personaly would love to see these powerpoint's and word documents. Just from personal perpective... but of course these document may prevent me from buying any ASUS products.
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @09:43AM (#25038929) Journal

    Several years ago I worked in a very large and respectable company that shall remain unnamed (but whose name rhymes with, say, "Nokia"...) and we just shipped our turnkey system with our software AND with the source code. And the company wasn't (and still isn't, AFAIK, but don't work for them since a long time) an open-source company :o) It was a screwup by the consultant guys in India.

    I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often, knowing the level of QC that happens in India and China.

    oh, right, [wnd.com] I forgot [nytimes.com] that it does [washingtonpost.com] indeed happen. [guardian.co.uk] Even nowadays (de javu). [time.com]

  • by Trelane (16124)
    where are the files? I'm highly curious to get a peek into the secret goings-on of a major Microsoft OEM.
  • by hey! (33014) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @09:54AM (#25039069) Homepage Journal

    Especially in international, multi-cultural enterprises.

    When the executives said they wanted "Cracking software" on the CD, they meant it in the same way that Wallace does when he compliments Gromit on breakfast: "Cracking toast, Gromit!"

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Because, you know, after MSI threw in those free moviez [engadget.com], ASUS had to up the ante a little :)

  • I remember years ago that The Settlers 2 had a crack for SciTech's Display Doctor, a shareware DOS VESA utility, buried away in one of it's directories.
  • I'm just surprised that the CD didn't wind up with his pron collection on it.
  • by grumpyman (849537) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @10:32AM (#25039691)
    ....details 'major problems' identified by the company, including application compatibility issues...

    Sounds like a release notes ^_^

  • When I first read it, I thought, "Oops! Someone copied the wrong file over"... After I read that some internal documents about key issues in the company were on the disc? That makes it sound like an intentional act... Wonder if we'll hear some news about a developer getting fired/sued/etc. ...

  • rar of the directory? I'm interested in the..uh.. resume.
    Sure.

  • Did anyone else read that as:

    Asus Ships
    Cracking
    Software on Recovery DVD

    Toooot...toooot... here comes the naval hacker fleet!
    (I wonder if their ancestors were pirates...)

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