This article is more than 1 year old

Sony's rootkit drives squirrels to new careers in adult movies

Your thoughts on the week's events

Letters Sony messing around with DRM software has probably been the biggest topic for discussion this week. (Can everyone say "Rootkit"?) Once we got over the initial shock of the scheme, everyone seemed to be enjoying dissecting the bits they deemed most odious, or speculating about the origins of the idea itself. For example:

The part that baffles me is:

...with Microsoft's decision that the DRM software contained on infected CDs, counted as "malicious software under the rules it uses to define what Windows should be protected against"

It's malicious for a program to use an OS hook to hide an entire class of processes from user view, but perfectly alright for the OS to have that ability, let alone have a hook for it available at the user level? How is it that Microsoft believe they are in the sinned-against camp?


Given all the chaos Sony is now directly blamed for in the past few weeks, I guess we now know what the BOFH did on his vacation...


Mr. Cullen,

This entire episode completely sickens me. In 1967, I took the money I received from graduation from grammar school to buy a Sony 720U B&W TV. I STILL have it. It STILL works. I have purchased , over the years, 12 Sony Electronics components, from tiny radios, to all kinds of walkmen, top end stereo components, and big TVs.

If I had to use one word to describe Sony, and their behavior towards consumers it would be "Honorable". Always. And almost every person I know says the same.

I hate to say it, but this only started after Sony started letting Americans "be the boss" in their corporations.

I think that Mr. Masuru Ibuka and Mr. Akio Morita would not like what their 'child' has turned into. It is a shame.


The problem is, because it was released on mass market CDs, this stuff is going to be around for ever. Ordinary viruses and malwares just die, but this one, having been put out on huge numbers of CDs by a mass market supplier, will have a really really long life. I guess the law suits will be around for ever, too. You could get infected in ten years time, and still have the right to sue. What a mess.


And then, news trickled out that Sony's now-very-popular root-kit-esque DRM stuff has a wee copyright problem of its own...

Laugh? I nearly needed a change of clothes.

You couldn't write this as fiction - no one would believe it was credible.

I can only describe this as "Irony in its most ferrous form"


Also this week, former MI5 boss Stella Rimington dismisses ID cards as being as useful as chocolate fireguards (not her exact words, of course), while the Lords voted the bill down. This prompted some political musings on the other side of the Atlantic:

Why in the hell haven't you got rid of that damn Blair, geez, wasn't he the dork that started to mess over your system of government by doing away with the house of lords?

Yes, I know, we have this needledick Bush over here in the US, but we have an excuse, we are the new cargo-cultists of the new religious order.

It's the British Empire for god's sake, don't you people know how to tie a hangman's noose?


Answers on a postcard...

Students don't want to study computing anymore because all the jobs are being offshored. Shocker, that. Humanities courses are picking up the otherwise would-have-been-geeks, but you had your own theories about why that might be:

Of course humanities courses also have the cutest chicks.

All geeks rue their choice on arriving at university and wish that they had chosen to study English, French or Spanish.

What American Universities need to do is get a good trashy marketing department that puts babes in bikinis draped over their servers.

See the enrolment climb.


Absolutely right. Why should young people oblige the corporate world with investing an important amount of their time and money studying engineering? They will be expected to work very long, unpaid, hours working on a project that is always critically understaffed doing the job of two, preferably three people on ever tighter deadlines. There will not be budgets for the most mundane pieces of equipment while sales, marketing and finance always seem to find funds for the latest and the greatest kit. On top of that, they will be expected to oblige the customer, who does not have clue one about what their doing, with every silly request they care to come up with.

And in the end, yes indeed, they will hear that unfortunately economic forces [the shareholders want to make that extra 1 cent on the dollar and the C ranks have to earn their bonuses and stock options] require the department to be outsourced. Only the outsourcing isn't actually that cost-effective, with the remaining engineers correcting the work the slaves in NameYourCountry haven't done quite to the required spec, adding again to the workload.

Studying engineering is a favor to the corporate world which you will be repaid for in excessive stress, an ulcer, a divorce, a flat career and serving as a prime candidate for outsourcing when strategic considerations [not even economic ones] decide it's time for you to go. You are under no obligation to do the corporate world this favor.

Do something you'll enjoy doing instead.


"Media Hype"? What Hype?

Companies are moving their software development offshore. Only they call it globalization. Name a fortune 500 company that doesn't use offshore labor....

While this trend is real, this shouldn't discourage people from studying Comp Sci / Software Engineering.

Going "offshore" reduces the quality of the software. Yeah you can get cheap labor, but the quality of the goods is also inferior.

Of course, a good engineering background is great for other fields like medicine and law.

But hey, what do I know? I'm just a pseudonym.... ;-)


Naughty people will find a way to cheat nick stuff, given half a chance. The new trick, buy something online, have it delivered, deny all knowledge of the purchase:

Welcome to the 20th century. This scam has been perpetrated ever since US law forced credit card companies to void fraudulent charges. You don't need the internet to do this. I could drive to the nearest large city tomorrow, buy a 42" Plasma screen, and call the card in as stolen the next day. The 'net just makes it *slightly* easier.

If the dollar amount is high enough (say a 42" plasma screen), then an investigation is undertook, but if it's a small amount (say $150) then the retailer just has to eat it.


The world (well, England) has too many grey squirrels, according to a new website. Well, some of you are more worried about other wildlife, but the consensus seems to be that taking pot shots at the rats-with-good-PR has made it on to your list of things to do this weekend:

Squirrels!!!!! Squirrels should be the least of his problems. Just be glad he's not dealing with bears. That's right bears, attacking bird feeders are a much bigger problem and should be dealt with accordingly.

By the way, I do have proof.

M. Johnson

Someone make sure all the sharp objects are taken away from Mr. Johnson, please?

There was an piece on Gordon Ramseys FWord last night about exterminating the grey squirrel in order to save wonderful red 'squirrel nutkin'. The guy presenting it (not ramsey.. some other t*sser) had another chef cook him up some squirrel which he then took much delight in eating, he also went out on the street with some and asked passers by to taste it, i think the outcome was it tasted like a cross between pork and chicken.

The most important part of the piece was when the guy stated the law on killing squirrels... basically, if your the landowner or you have the land owners permission you are allowed to snipe squirrels with no repercussions (there might be some bit about them actually being pests but what court would convict eh?!)... you have to do it cleanly tho folks, so we only want to see head shots... no letting those little fsckers bleed to death on the wire!

cheers Eddy

Have you seen those assault courses people build for squirrels? Slowly, one by one you add obstacles. Rope traverses, see-saws, hatches and doors and so on.

What you do is you build one, you train the squirrels, and then just when they're getting cocky you booby trap it. Cut the rope traverses and reconnect them with a thin piece of thread, while spiking the ground underneath. Attach a guillotine blade to the doors. Hinge the end of the see-saw so it tips the squirrel onto spikes just when it thinks it is across. And so on.

The other alternative is a bird feeder that only squirrels can get into, and then poison the seed. But that's too boring.


Thanks for the read on the squirrel genocide! Amusing and we need that. I shared my tip with them for using a Havahart trap. Squirrels liked my attic and now, they live elsewhere.


In light of the recent animal updising against humanity, it think it would be useful if El Reg would create a new public service of the Most Wanted Animal Species. The site would list all animals that pose a great threat to humanity and enable various defence groups around the globe to better combat these terrible threats.

For squirrels, I would recommend jumping out from behind a tree and shouting "Boo!" loudly while lunging towards them. They'll drop their nuts and scamper away, never to be seen again.

The site could also offer rehabilitation services to animals that want to get back on the right side of the law or reintegrate with society, such as drunken moose or smoking chimps. Of course, any animal failing the rehabilitation problem would have to visit Steve Ballmer wearing a "Google Rocks!" T-Shirt.



We have the same problem in the US, although in my region it's more the red squirrels, not grey.

My sister used to have this habit of tossing peanuts out for the squirrels to eat; she thought it was "cute"... That is, until one evening she left the bag of peanuts by her sliding door when she and her friend went out for the evening.. Given that it was summertime and she lived on the 3rd floor of an apartment building, she had left the glass slider open and only had the screen closed. Along comes Mr. Squirrel, sees the bag of nuts, breaks into the apartment by chewing through the screen, eats half the bag, then runs and hides in the closet. I got called in for Emergency Squirrel Removal, made all the easier with an Airsoft gun.

My solution to the squirrel problem? The writer of the site mentioned hanging a bird feeder from a clothesline.. My solution falls similar, but is much more effective: Take an ordinary extension cord, say, 50ft in length. Strip bits of insulation off the wire so there are bare spots staggered between the two wires, but never next to each other. Suspend said bird feeder from wire, and if you see a squirrel tight-roping the wire, plug 'er in! 115v is pretty effective in the US; I'm sure the UK's 220v would do the job that much more efficiently.


And now a new, and semi-regular feature: weird letter of the week. We get a lot of these, but for some reason our poor security correspondent John Leyden seems to get more than his fair share. The following is a classic example:

hey do u think uk can get me into a porno?


The only response poor John could muster, looking baffled as he spoke, was: "Who does he think I am? Hugh Hefner?".

Well, quite.

Just to clarify: there is no casting couch at Vulture Central. We are reporters, not porn agents, honest. However, the idea will almost certainly have provoked the boys in the strategy boutique to carry out a SWOT analysis and some swift consumer research to see if we could make any money out of it.

Enjoy the weekend. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like