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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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RE: DRM should be illegal
By augiem on 7/31/2012 4:11:39 AM , Rating: 2
Who is to put the value on what a creation is worth? Who is to say how much money someone should make from a certain creation before you deem that they have fully recouped their costs and have been fully and fairly compensated for the time/effort of creation? Do they release their song/game/movie/painting/book/etc. for say 6 months or 1 year and gather whatever revenue they can, then after that it becomes public domain? Who decides this? Some government body?

You make it sound like you'd prefer it if all creatives only got paid hourly for their work and that's it. (That's essentially what happens for the most part as the company that they work for, not the creatives themselves, usually gets all the earnings ad infinitum.)

No other industry works like this.

What are you talking about? Nearly every industry works like this. Just about everything that involves any sort of R&D works EXACTLY like this. You pay scientists, chemists, engineers, etc. to develop ideas which are evolved over time from product to product, generation to generation. Do you think it would even be possible to have the technology we have if they had to just start from the ground up every time they wanted to develop something? The only part you really HAVE to do over and over again is the manual labor of manufacturing and distribution and the parts themselves. You're looking this from purely labor perspective. Without the architecht, the pyramid workers would simply be moving stone around without reason.

Not everyone in the world is creative. And believe me, having been in the field, it can VERY taxing, frustrating, and all consuming 24/7. Its not easy. Your point of view devalues those people who create the art and ideas and breakthroughs and puts all the value only on the ones directly executing those ideas.

The chance for for potentially unlimited reward is the driving force beind most of the world's creative people who sacrifice everything over and over again in the hopes of "making it". Most will never achieve anything close to fantastic success, but a world without that possibility sounds horribly dismal. It reminds me of the movie Hudsucker Proxy.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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