February 7th, 2006, 17:49 PM
Old and Cranky
Using Rootkits to Defeat Digital Rights Management
Alcohol and Daemon Tools both contain Rootkits
The Sony rootkit debacle highlighted the use of rootkits to prevent pirates and authors of CD burning, ripping, and emulation utilities from circumventing Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions on access to copyrighted content. Itís therefore ironic, though not surprising, that several CD burning and disc emulation utilities are also using rootkits, though the technology is being used in the opposite way: to prevent DRM software from enforcing copy restrictions.
Because PC game CDs and DVDs do not need to be compatible with set-top players software vendors can store data on media in unorthodox ways that require software support to read it. Attempts to make a copy of such media without the aid of the software results in a scrambled version and the software has DRM measures to detect and foil unauthorized copying.
CD burning and emulation software companies owe a significant amount of their sales to customers that want to store games on their hard drives. The legitimate claim for doing this is that it enables fast, cached access to the game., though it is well known that this is also used to make illegal copies of games to share with friends - so content-protected CDs and DVDs present a challenge the companies canít ignore. One way to deal with the problem is to re-engineer the software that interprets the data stored on the media, but that approach requires enormous and on-going resources dedicated to deciphering changes and enhancements made to the encoding schemes.
An easier approach is to fool game DRM software into thinking its reading data for playing a game from its original CD rather than from an on-disk copy. DRM software uses a number of techniques to try to defeat that trick, but a straightforward one is simply to detect if CD emulation software is present on the system and if so, if the game is being run from an on-disk emulated copy. Thatís where rootkits come in. Two of the most popular CD emulation utilities are Alcohol and Daemon Tools and they both use rootkits.
*Don't be afraid, read the article*