I first heard about this on the excellent Security Now! podcast and it really pissed me off!
Sony – yes that previously reputable company – has taken a positive step to alter your operating system without you being aware of this! No this is not some alarmist statement thrown out there to get ratings. This story has been covered all over the world by people like the Washington Post, The Inquirer and PCPro as well.
The slight-of-hand happens when you run Sony CDs with digital rights management (DRM) software on your PC. There is a EULA that pops-up asking you if it is OK to add some software to your machine, but who reads those anyway. Plus apparently the EULA says that you can uninstall the software, which you cannot.
This already is very dodgy, but much worse is to come! This software hack then goes on to hide ALL (not just Sony) files starting with $SYS$. This is a superb opportunity for a hacker to rename his files appropriately and nothing, including Anti-Virus software, will be able to find the offending files.
Luckily the industry has caught on to this very dodgy approach by Sony in a big way and a right stink is being kicked up. Some people, including the podcast mentioned above, are calling for a boycott on all Sony products.
I will adhere to this call to arms as I cannot accept what Sony is doing. Even if you do buy Sony CDs, make sure you don’t accept any EULAs that pop up when you play them (on a PC).