Homeland Security: Outlaw rootkits

A Homeland Security official speaking at the RSA conference suggested that regulation or legislation may be needed to deal with consumer abuses like the Sony Rootkit fiasco.

A Homeland Security official speaking at the RSA conference suggested that regulation or legislation may be  needed to deal with consumer abuses like the Sony Rootkit fiasco, News.com reports.  

"The recent Sony experience shows us that we need to be thinking about how we ensure that consumers are not surprised by what their software programs do," Jonathan Frenkel, director of law enforcement policy at the U.S Department of Homeland Security said in a speech here at the RSA Conference 2006. ... "Legislation or regulation may not be a solution in all cases, but it may be warranted in appropriate circumstances," Frenkel said.

DHS has been concerned about the Sony move since it exploded and officials had a heated meeting with Sony execs, according to Computerworld

While Sony's software was distributed without malicious intent, the DHS is worried that a similar situation could occur again, this time with more-serious consequences. "It's a potential vulnerability that's of strong concern to the department," Frenkel said.

Though the DHS has no ability to implement the kind of regulation that Frenkel mentioned, the organization is attempting to increase industry awareness of the rootkit problem, he said. "All we can do is, in essence, talk to them and embarrass them a little bit," Frenkel said.

In fact, this is not the first time the department has expressed concerns over the security of copy protection software. In November, the DHS's assistant secretary for policy, Stewart Baker, warned copyright holders to be careful of how they protect their music and DVDs. "In the pursuit of protection of intellectual property, it's important not to defeat or undermine the security measures that people need to adopt in these days," Baker said, according to a video posted to The Washington Post Web site.