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Assasin's Creed installs dangerous software -- can we say "class action lawsuit"?

Google, Inc. (GOOG) engineer Tavis Ormandy has created a world of woe for French software giant Ubisoft Entertainment S.A. (EPA:UBI) after he revealed that the company was endangering customers by installing dangerous software that opened a back-door to their machines.

Ubisoft is well known for its best-selling Assassin's Creed, Rayman, and Far Cry franchises, as well as a number of Tom Clancy titles (e.g. the Splinter Cell series).  But according to Mr. Ormandy, Ubisoft's recent software comes with a dangerous attachment -- a browser plugin designed to support the company's secured Uplay service.

The browser plug-in acts as an accidental Trojan, allows arbitrary code execution via the opened "door" inside the affected browser.  Ubisoft uses the plugin to check if the installed title is valid, allowing gamers access to online play and achievements.  But according to Mr. Ormandy hackers could also exploit the open door in escalation of privileges attacks on the users' machine.

Hundreds of thousands of PC gamers are believed to be affected.

Uplay Uplay
Ubisoft Uplay browser plugin allowed unauthorized acceess to users' machines.
[Image Source:]

Affected titles include 5 Assassin’s Creed games, 3 Tom Clancy games, as well as popular titles such as Driver: San Francisco, and Settlers 7.  Mr. Ormandy first observed the exploitable plug-in while installing Assassin's Creed: Revelations.

Assassin's Creed
The exploitable plug-in came with installs of Assassin's Creed titles. [Image Source: IGN]

Ubisoft had already upset customers with its DRM scheme, as many complained that they had legitimately purchased titles, but were being locked out of gameplay when their machines were offline.  Ubisoft defended this policy.

Now it may be forced to defend itself in court against class action lawsuits for endangering its loyal customers.

The incident is eerily reminiscent to the rootkit discovered on Sony Corp. (TYO:6758) music CDs several years ago.  Sony was subsequently sued and forced into an apology/settlement for recklessly endangering its users.

Note: As the plug-in does not mask its presence, in its current form it is closer to an exploitable plug-in aka. an accidental Trojan than a rootkit by definition, hence the text was changed to correct this.

Sources: SecLists, Geek, Ycombinator News

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Blaming the wrong people
By disgusted@thieves on 7/30/2012 5:57:07 PM , Rating: 2
Everyone upset at Ubi for trying to protect their investment, you are blaming the wrong people. You should be blaming all the thieves in the world who forced Ubi to do something to protect their property.
If there weren't thieves in the world, there would be no DRM.

RE: Blaming the wrong people
By Motoman on 7/30/2012 5:59:43 PM , Rating: 2
There will always be people who will take what is not due them.

DRM does not stop them. All DRM does is increase cost and potentially punish the legitimate consumer. Therefore, DRM should be eliminated.

RE: Blaming the wrong people
By disgusted@thieves on 7/30/2012 6:09:04 PM , Rating: 2
So by your logic you have no locks on your house, but I bet you do. I am sure your opinion would be different if you were the one being stolen from.

If you don't like the locks on it, don't buy it. It doesn't get any simpler then that. Or start you own software company and don't implement DRM.

RE: Blaming the wrong people
By ritualm on 7/30/2012 7:03:26 PM , Rating: 2
By putting DRM in the games they sell, Ubisoft is treating its loyal customers as if they're reservoir dogs. Meanwhile, those who steal can get past the amazingly weak protection scheme and crack it wide open.

How is that "protecting their investments"?

Using your analogy, they're wrapping the door knob in a retail-friendly hard plastic blister pack. The criminals simply bash the door open with crowbars and firearms, but the poor guy who bought it has to cut through the blister pack before he can actually use it.

You are not making any sense.

RE: Blaming the wrong people
By Belard on 7/31/2012 5:08:16 AM , Rating: 2
A CD-Key is all the security they really need.

When the gamer wants to play multi-player or update the game, it can check against the key, no big deal.

But everything else (SecROM7 / limited installs) only punishes the customers. None of the DRMs prevent the piracy of these games.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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