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February 20, 2006

Homeland Secrity Department Threatens to Ban Rootkits

Since Sony's DRM was found to include rootkit technology, the firestorm erupted as to the appropriateness of using this tool to protect content.  After all, this is the invention, more or less, of hackers.  Rootkits conceal files from the operating system and hence spyware and virus detection software.  Virus writers took advantage of Sony's blunder once the mechanics of their DRM scheme became public.  Sony, of course, was forced by lawsuits and bad publicity to remove the rootkit technology from their products and the recall existing discs that contained the installation software.  That episode is over, but the rootkit dilemma remains.

Now comes the Department of Homeland Security suggesting that the government could ban the use of rootkits if industry continues to use them.  HHS is concerned that rootkit technology could leave consumer machines vulnerable to attack.  The potential to increase identity theft and disrupt the online economy is pretty high.  According to various news stories, HHS officials met with Sony and blasted them for using this software scheme.  No legislation is introduced yet.  That could change if industry, particularly the entertainment industry, doesn't get the message.

Here are two stories, one in Ars Technica and the other from TechSpot.

February 20, 2006 | Permalink

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