BioShock DEMO Installs [Unwanted Software That Is Not Actually A Rootkit]

What on EARTH

Slashdot | BioShock Installs a Rootkit
Facts have surfaced that show that the recently released PC game BioShock installs a rootkit, which embeds itself into Explorer, as part of its SecureROM copy-protection scheme. Not only that, but just installing the demo infects your system with the rootkit.

The article gives instructions on how to find and delete the [unwanted software that is not actually a rootkit]. I have verified that my system is infected after installing only the demo version of BioShock. I’m interested if a reader of this blog who has bought it on Steam1 can also verify the presence of this [unwanted software that is not actually a rootkit]. I expect it to be there. After all, if the code that is supposed to protect the disc for the downloadable demo from being copied2, why wouldn’t it also be included in the downloadable full version?

I’m about sick to death of this trend in games software as it is. It seems that if you pay for software, the companies that you are paying take it as an indication that you desire to be abused. Entertainment software is the last genre in which I generally prefer commercial software to free and open source software, but that doesn’t mean I trust it.

As a computing professional, my heart goes out to any developers who have poured their blood, sweat and brains into a project that they feel they can truly be proud of, only to have their “superiors” add a turd like SecuROM on top like a dollop of rancid whipped cream, for the sole possible purpose of harming the players the developers hope to engage.

UPDATE: Reader “Rasputin” writes in to helpfully inform us that SecuROM is not actually a rootkit. Denbeste quotes a source that says the point is debatable3. It may not actually be a rootkit, but it’s software that clutters up Windows with more little time-bombs that wait forever to go off, even after its carrier software is installed. If I want to play in a minefield, I’d prefer that it stays in the game world, and not in my system’s software.

UPDATE 2: Wording updated.  I also found another article that sheds some light on trends in copy protection vs. piracy here.  This isn’t the angle the author is coming from, but is it possible that these sorts of copy protection schemes are in place not to stop piracy, but to persuade people that copying is not desired when they might otherwise think it’s okay?

  1. I planned to buy it on Steam as soon as my account is verified – long story. []
  2. Hint to distributors: if you have the user download the software, there is no disc to protect. How in heck am I supposed to be able to pirate your free download if I wanted to? []
  3. I’m curious about the claims that SecuROM can give itself Admin permissions. That may not make it a rootkit by definition, but it would make it Trouble. []

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