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January 31, 2006

Autorun on Windows

Recently most of the IT blogs I read have devoted vast amounts of information to the problems of Digital Rights Management (DRM) software. The story first broke on the blog of Mark Russinovich, a Windows kernel expert. He explained how Sony had been using Spyware-like software techniques to force users to install DRM software, and then prevent them from removing it.

The story went all round the world, and resulted in many lawsuits filed against Sony. The most interesting thing, perhaps, is that the only way the software can ever get on your system is by being run from the CD. And the most common way for this is through Windows' Autorun.

So today's lesson is how to turn off the Autorun feature, thus protecting your system from most portable-media borne attacks.

There are lots of ways to do this. The first is to edit the registry (scroll down to where you see the pictures). The second involves downloading TweakUI, which is a great tool from Microsoft to customise your system.

Please note that both of these methods are fraught with a reasonable level of danger. Make sure to back up everything before editing the registry. If you don't want to mess around with the registry, remember you can always just press the shift key when inserting the disk.

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