Yet another reason why DRM s*cks! And yet another reason not to buy WMP protected tunes (plays for sure! ha! more like spyware for sure :-) !)
A similar thing has popped up recently with one of my favorite bugaboos, DRM. I'm opposed to DRM for quite a number of reasons (if you're looking for an excellent list of those reasons, read Cory Doctorow's brilliant dissection of DRM), and now there's a new one: because it actually helps the bad guys.
Microsoft has touted its Windows Media Player (or WMP) as an industy- and DRM-friendly app that supports so-called "protected" media files. Basically, if you try to play a DRM-laden Windows media file, WMP checks to see if you have a valid license to do so. If you do, the file plays; if you don't, WMP heads off to a web site specified by the media file to acquire and download (and often purchase) a license.
But guess what? WMP doesn't check to see where it's going, or even what it's downloading, so individuals up to no good simply redirect it to sites where users end up with spyware, viruses, and other nastiness on their Windows machines. One researcher went ahead, pressed "Yes" to allow stuff to install, and then measured the results:
My computer quickly became contaminated with the most spyware programs I have ever received in a single sitting ... all told, the infection added 58 folders, 786 files, and an incredible 11,915 registry entries to my computer.
Amazing. Astounding. And another example of how some supposed "security" actually makes things easier for the bad guys - and makes things far worse for the good guys (and by "good guys," I mean users, not the companies pushing DRM).