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TurboTax DRM Writes to Your Boot Sector?!

CmdrTaco posted more than 11 years ago | from the now-that-ain't-cool dept.

Software 749

ltwally writes "As reported on Slashdot (amongst other sites) recently, the latest version of TurboTax is laden with DRM software. Even worse, however, is that it apparently writes to your hard drive's boot-sector , as reported at Extreme Tech here. As I'm sure most Slashdotters already know, the boot-sector is often times used for silly things like boot-loaders and such. "

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Happy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314257)

Are we?

Well, if they're writing... (5, Funny)

spazoid12 (525450) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314259)

to my boot sector...I hope it's a really lovely story. Maybe a romance novel would be nice.

pirst fost! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314262)

pirst fost! or slashdot bug (who can ever tell)

No way! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314263)

No taxation without representation!

Re:No way! (-1, Offtopic)

Gonoff (88518) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314280)

No representation without taxation!

You don't pay the man, you don't get to complain...

Re:No way! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314294)

God, I'd love to have hot S&M sex with her [yimg.com] . She could tie me up and whip my white ass until it was all read. Then she'd ream my ass with a strap-on dildo and make me lick her all night long.

Re:No way! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314327)

Duh, why else do you think Bush would appoint her?

Re:No way! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314352)

Yeah, but I don't think you'll like it when Messrs. Ashcroft and Cheney join you in your little love nest...

IN SOVIET CANADA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314265)

Your boot sector writes to turbotax, eh!

Re:IN SOVIET CANADA (-1, Offtopic)

KMAPSRULE (639889) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314279)

isn't it aaay not "eh"

Re:IN SOVIET CANADA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314311)

Only if the Fonz happens to be in Canada.

Re:IN SOVIET CANADA (-1, Offtopic)

LinuxCumShot (582742) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314317)

it is spelt "eh" and pronounced "Ay"

plus canadians are soviets, just soft core commies.

wagabooga h !!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314267)

Ich bin ein klein libellllullllll00e

what? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314269)

Bootloaders?

Heh, silly me. (5, Insightful)

numbski (515011) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314272)

I came *this* close to installing TurboTax on my Mac via VirtualPC or Bochs (cheaper) and then I read the box closely.

"Will not work on the Macintosh Platform using Windows emulation software."

I took it back and used TaxAct [taxact.com] instead. I nearly installed it on my fiancee's PC instead. Ick.

You have to be on some sort of crack to write to a person's boot sector. Period. That's just off limits.

Um... (1, Insightful)

Millennium (2451) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314323)

Why didn't you just get the Mac version? That would likely have worked.

Re:Um... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314368)

...and the Mac version has no "DRM" at all.

~jeff

Re:Heh, silly me. (3, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314390)

You have to be on some sort of crack to write to a person's boot sector. Period. That's just off limits.

I write to your fiancee's boot sector. Zing!

Re:Heh, silly me. (2, Interesting)

The Tyro (247333) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314417)

I didn't like TurboTax anyway... this just gives me another good reason not to use it. Writing to the HD boot sector? What the hell?

Personally, I have my taxes done by a very good tax attorney, and the guy is an absolute wizard. For my money, there is no substitute for that level of expertise, particularly if you have a very complicated return. Tax software is great and all, but if that audit notice ever comes, I'd much rather have my personal tax attorney sitting next to me when I'm facing the IRS guy across the table.

Yes, he's expensive, but serious expertise costs money, and it's something where I'd be leery about going cheap. It's like buying the bargain-basement parachute, or the bulletproof vest that's 70% off...

I'm sure TurboTax is fine software, but it's not for me, particularly with this DRM stuff. I'm a thief until proven otherwise, but I'm supposed to trust them will all my financial info?

Bah.

How Appropriate (5, Funny)

yukster (586300) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314274)

Virii write to boot sector

DRM writes to boot sector

hmmmm...

Re:How Appropriate (0, Offtopic)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314282)

Is virii the multiple of virius?

Re:How Appropriate (1, Informative)

Scaba (183684) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314289)

Virii write to boot sector
Viruses [reference.com] , not virii.

Re:How Appropriate (1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314430)

Spelling nazis, not nazii.

Seriously, how the fuck did this get +3 informative. Sheesh.

Re:How Appropriate (2, Insightful)

Pike65 (454932) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314290)

Yeah. Isn't this going to cause my virus checker to go apeshit?

I would rather hope that Norton would spot something writing to my boot sector . . .

Re:How Appropriate (1)

Neophytus (642863) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314304)

I would rather hope that Norton would spot something writing to my boot sector . . . I once ran fdisk /mbr and yes, it did alert me.

Re:How Appropriate (5, Interesting)

crawling_chaos (23007) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314347)

The install instructions for TurboTax state that it will not install correctly with a virus checker enabled. Now we know why.

Re:How Appropriate (0, Troll)

groke (160115) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314339)

... you fight like a cow

Re:How Appropriate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314412)

Troll? Who is the unhappy person that doesn't recognize quotes from The Secret of Monkey Island?

Wincrash (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314278)

My Windows partition crashed two years ago. And, to my surprise as it was frustrating at the time, I don't miss it very much.

My .doc-files now are .sxw-files.

Turbotax naughtiness (4, Interesting)

Neophytus (642863) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314287)

What smartarse decided to put registration data in such a volatile place such as the MBR. Heck, any program that performs low-level operations on your hard disk should be banned, because of the risks involved with writing blindly onto one area. Turbotax are treading shallow water, especially after their licencing 'policy'

that settles it (5, Funny)

dubiousmike (558126) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314292)

Now I am defintely NOT doing my taxes...again.

CDilla (3, Informative)

Epsillon (608775) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314293)

CDilla's LMS does this too, although I'm not completely convinced it's the bootsector. Still, nothing short of a low level format clears it, so it probably is.

Re:CDilla (5, Informative)

Erik Hollensbe (808) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314408)

If you had read the article, this is C-Dilla's LMS that they're using.

They also proved using a sector editor that the location is correct.

Re:CDilla (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314413)

if it's in boot sector why wouldn't "format /MBR" work?

Re:CDilla (5, Informative)

Ldir (411548) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314426)

They are the same thing. TurboTax uses the Macrovision C-Dilla (Safecast) license manager. It is covertly installed when you install TurboTax. It is not removed when you remove TurboTax, however. Intuit now offers a C-Dilla uninstaller on their web site.

I'm one of the legions of long-time TurboTax users who switched to TaxCut this year. Glad I did, TaxCut works just as well, costs half as much, and has no DRM or other installation games. As a bonus, it imports TurboTax data flawlessly.

We went through this before, in the early days of the PC (early 80's). Companies kept using more and more obnoxious forms of copy protection, making software more brittle, and more and more difficult to install and use. Finally enough consumers revolted and the software companies wised up. Looks like Intuit needs a history lesson.

TurboTax XP (4, Funny)

Openadvocate (573093) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314295)

Hmm seems to me like this product rather should be called Turbotax XP.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314296)

What did you think DRM was going to be all about? Just putting drm.dll in your Windows directory and making it hidden? You give them the right to write to any part of your hard disk they like when you put that CD in the drive. Just be prepared for the consequences.

only in danger if you dual-boot (5, Interesting)

ltwally (313043) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314297)

TurboTax's DRM software only modifies sector 33 of your boot-sector. Basically what this means is that for Windows only users, you're safe.

If, however, you use other boot-loaders or "alternative" OS's, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise as things suddenly stop booting. YIKES!.

Anyhoo.. just thought that I'd point out that any of you that just have to run TurboTax should be "safe" unless you run something non-M$.

Re:only in danger if you dual-boot (5, Interesting)

Pius II. (525191) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314353)

This is software targeted at average users, meaning that it is easily possible that some of them still use hard drives which store additional enablers in the MBR to overcome all those silly BIOS limits (512 mb ought to be enough for everyone. No wait. Shit. Well, then let's extend this to 2 GB. Oh, damn. 8 GB. Oh, there goes another. 32 GB. Oh no, wrong again. 128 GB. To be continued...).
I don't think I have to mention what overwriting those drivers means to the users data; plus, you aren't even likely to be able to restore those drivers.

Re:only in danger if you dual-boot (4, Insightful)

jdkincad (576359) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314434)

Not true. My parent's machine got fscked up after installation of TurboTax, they had a system restore utility that refused to work aand let the computer boot afterwards. At least this would go a long way to explain the problem.

Re:only in danger if you dual-boot (2, Informative)

ejdmoo (193585) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314448)

Check out this [turbotaxsupport.com] on the turbo tax support site.

Stupid DMCA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314299)

It's a shame that it is illegal to prevent companies from doing things like this to one's computer.

However, if I am the security mechanism protecting my computer, aren't these companies violating me and hence breaking the law?

I just bought that yesterday! (1)

iCEBaLM (34905) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314300)

Damnit, I was trying to decide between TurboTax and QuickTax and I got TurboTax because it was cheaper and seemed to do more. Now I KNOW it does more but I don't want to use it now! WTF as we as consumers supposed to do about this crap? DRM submarined in software that you don't know about until after you bought it?

-- iCEBaLM

Ah, the power of friends (3, Funny)

tuba_dude (584287) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314303)

It's times like these when I feel lucky that I've got a good buddy that's a tax guy...and I've got dirt on him.

Re:Ah, the power of friends (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314310)

So you had hot gay sex with him and videotaped the disgusting orgy?

Re:Ah, the power of friends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314326)

Think, smart guy. That would equate to dirt on both of them. Perhaps you are covering up for something you did?

VMWare? (3, Interesting)

Malc (1751) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314312)

Anybody know if this can be used with VMWare? DO virutalised IDE disks conform all the way down to these unused sectors?

Re:VMWare? (3, Informative)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314381)

I vaguely remember reading on a Mac site that the TurboTax packaging rather explicitly states that the product will not run in any kind of Windows emulator (the article of course was talking about Connectix Virtual PC).

If that's the case, this boot-sector thing might be a major part of the reason why.

~Philly

umm... (3, Interesting)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314313)

Correct me if I'm wrong but most apps in NT4/2k/XP aren't allowed direct write access to disks or even hardware. Does this only affect win98 boxes?

Installer (1)

Ayanami Rei (621112) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314366)

Installer runs with Administrator access (most home users are by default in the Administrator group).

Administrator (5, Informative)

yerricde (125198) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314374)

As I understand it, a program running as Administrator on NT can elevate its privileges to LocalSystem and do just about anything, such as write sectors to physical drives.

Re:umm... (1)

Low Key (125213) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314396)

The writing probably takes place only during the installation process.

I agree though, I wasn't aware that a users program under 2k/xp was able to have low level access to disks, so I don't see how it would read the info later. Probably just part of the secret windows API, muahaha

Analog tax returns (4, Insightful)

PizzaFace (593587) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314314)

Folks, the forms are no more complicated than the software. To the extent the forms are more complicated, the software is oversimplifying the law. Save yourself a few bucks and just fill in the forms by hand.

Re:Analog tax returns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314361)

What software do I need to fill it in by hand?

thx.

Re:Analog tax returns (4, Insightful)

koreth (409849) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314367)

Translation: Folks, your time is less valuable than the cost of tax preparation software. Spend a few hours to save yourself a couple bucks.

Err, no thanks. It's worth $30 to me to save several hours of sifting through stacks of paper, re-checking my calculations and making sure I've copied the correct numbers from form A to form B.

Re:Analog tax returns (4, Insightful)

swb (14022) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314369)

The forms themselves aren't hard, but the rules governing stuff certainly can be, and the IRS docs aren't always helpful. On more than one occasion I've found myself tossing a coin over something, since the IRS documentation isn't always clear.

Presumably the electronic forms and the "choices" they make have been analyzed by someone who really understands the tax code, but for all we know the coin tossed was a Rupee in India by someone who has never filled out American tax forms! No offense to Indian programmers, but I'm sure my guesses of Indian tax law would be just as bad.

I also kind of like the neo-luddite feel of mailing in my taxes on paper. It feels subversive for some odd reason.

Re:Analog tax returns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314398)

I find it sickening that you feel at all subverise when sending in your taxes. In reality you are completely subservient!

Re:Analog tax returns (3, Insightful)

Blackhalo (572408) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314397)

I'm sure that if all that you are filling out is a 1040EZ, then yes it is eaiser to fill out by hand. But those of us with "real" jobs, 401k's, employee stock purchace plans, online brokereages, IRA's and other finantial complexites, this software makes tax time much less painful. I disturbs me that a company that had such a good brand recognition with me, i.e. it's not microsoft, would stoop to such a draconian DRM strategy. I wonder how they are going to handle all the support calls generated by the anti-virus software flagging this as a virus?

Hey, watch it buddy. (2, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314436)

That's revisionism you're talking there, and the guy who once modded me down as Flamebait for saying a pocket sized spiral bound notebook was the best "PDA" I've ever had is going to be gunning for your ass.

When we play Solitare around here we use a $3000 machine, and don't you forget it.

KFG

Don't know about you, but it's TOO complicated (2, Informative)

MickLinux (579158) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314437)

My wife does our taxes. We have an LLC, really a microbusiness that does less than $30k/yr [this year it'll be $25k]. From that you knock off expenses, ebay fraud [paypal, please take a bow], and the like.

Anyhow, just doing minimum compliance with the law, no massively complicated deductions, you have to do things like calculate "minimum alternative taxes", and such... it's taken my wife since December, 2 hours or so each day, about 3 days a week... so I guess that would be 36 hours so far. She's still not done.

Yeah, she's doing it analog. I don't think turbo tax *would* help a whole lot, especially since a major part of her job is reading and rereading all the IRS documents to find out their new rules this year, and how she has to expense this, deduct that, cannot expense and *must* deduct t'other, *must* expense the third, or fill in a form explaining why she isn't expensing it, and so on and so forth.

I dunno. If you count the cost of her time as $20/hour, then without us owing anything, the cost of taxes would be $720 and counting.

Anyhow, lemme finish up with a link and a comment:

http://www.givemeliberty.org : absolutely right, legally correct based on written law, but it'd be incredibly stupid to join. Lots of our rules have nothing to do with law, if you get my drift. Better just to leave.

I've heard of worse (2, Interesting)

NortonDC (211601) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314322)

Like programs falsely marking sectors as bad storing registration/usage data in there. In my book that's outright destructive.

Linux interop? (4, Insightful)

robbo (4388) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314325)

The comments so far are pretty inane and clearly come from windows users.. any word on how it impacts a dual-boot box? does it render your lilo or grub setup useless? I would personally be very upset if it screwed up my boot setup, and reasonably so, I think. imho, hese kinds of things should raise the hackles of the tech community, and linux users in general enough to give the vendor some serious shit.

what does it do to wine?

Re:Linux interop? (3, Informative)

Red Warrior (637634) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314391)

.. any word on how it impacts a dual-boot box? So far, so good. I've got TT installed in WIN98. I run a triple-boot WIN98/RH8.0/Mandrake9.0, using RedHat's Grub. Works fine, boots fine.
Intuit's still a bunch of SOBs for doing such a dangerous thing, though.

Re:Linux interop? (3, Funny)

cookiepus (154655) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314438)

LILO and GRUB shouldn't have the monopoly on fucking up my boot sector, damnit!

Anyone want to get rich (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314328)

Sounds like vanalism to me.

Re:Anyone want to get rich (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314350)

err...vandalism

Re:Anyone want to get rich (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314376)

Er... Analism

ANAL MONKEYFARTS! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314330)

THIS IS SO ANAL.. if I could program i'd make a "crack" that would write the signature to every ppls drives so that all could run and not PAY! HOW LAME LAME LAME lameass SecrueCRAP fucking buttholes!

No. (3, Informative)

cperciva (102828) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314335)

This software does NOT write to your boot sector. It writes to sector 33 on the track which contiains the boot sector.

This is certainly a Bad Thing, but not nearly as bad as writing to the boot sector would be.

BIOS to the rescue! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314341)

Just enable virus detection in the bios... Then nothing can write to the boot sectors without your permission!

What we need is... (2, Interesting)

rickthewizkid (536429) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314343)

a piece of software to remove the DRM in TurboTax - kinda like "insert your CD, run this program, turbotax is up and running"

The only thing is that someone would have to do it anonymously - or from outside the US to avoid violating the DMCA

(Actually, this sounds like a good ad for H&R Block...)

Just my 1040EZ's worth
RickTheWizKid

Thank you for your insight (1)

Ayanami Rei (621112) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314385)

I live in Tokyo III, and I'll go to work RIGHT AWAY. I will defeat DRM for the stupid Americans' tax program that has NOTHING TO DO WITH ME.

Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuh ree-taard

Nothing to be afraid of (4, Insightful)

xFallenAngel (565811) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314348)

It looks like Turbotax programmers just had a sneaky idea on how to make it hard to crack their program. They just thought it was a cool idea, not thinking about the consequences.

Sure its not really a good idea and if lots of companies do that, it would lead to conflicts. Especially since 33 is a nice number, being in the middle. But is it really something we should be "afraid of" ?

The article had its worries about Tax software forgetting its licence just before you are done and have to send them off to the gov't. But that isn't too new with computers. Murphy's Law would apply regardless of what kind of copy protection that software has.

3D Studio Max does a similar thing. (5, Interesting)

dnaumov (453672) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314349)

3DS Max like to keep it's registration information in the boot-sector and of course it's ONLY compatible with the Windows bootloaders.. This means that if you have a dual-boot system with Linux using GRUB to boot Windows, the moment you register 3DS Max from within your Windows install, your bootloader will be practically wiped out. If you reinstall the bootloader again, 3DS MAX will complain that you have to re-register and obviously, if you do so, your bootloader will be wiped yet again.

This is a wonderful way to do things . . . (5, Funny)

D1rtbag (650553) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314351)

I can just imagine every piece of software writing its particular attempt to defeat piracy in our boot sectors; finally, we'd have a regular mosh-pit of games and apps regularly crashing our systems and giving virus-checkers fits of apoplexy. Bravo to Intuit for being a trendsetter .

win4lin and vmware (2, Interesting)

hogger (566646) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314356)

Any idea whether turbo tax under win4lin or vmware, on a linux-only system, would get to the MBR? Would the bios setting that prevents boot sector access without a warning protect from this?

Re:win4lin and vmware (2, Insightful)

nsayer (86181) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314384)

I have my copy of TurboTax running on a VMware guest system. The only sector 33 it's going to be able to scribble on is the one in the guest. It works just fine, and I am told it also works fine with the very latest version of VirtualPC for the mac (it didn't at first - Connectix actualy had to make changes so it would).

If Connectix pulls this nonsense next year, I am definately switching. I only bought it this year because I was unaware at the time. This is definately just too much to bear.

Re:win4lin and vmware (2)

nsayer (86181) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314403)

Woah!

I meant to say if *Intuit* pulls this stuff next year.....

Hrm... (0)

GarfBond (565331) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314357)

So that explains why my efforts to pirate the thing wouldn't work...

Oh well.

Just file your taxes electronically for free (5, Informative)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314360)

Here [irs.gov] is the intro page at the IRS, where you can select a tax preparer that will let you file and submit electronically for free. Check the criteria for qualification; most people qualify.


If you insist on using TurboTax, use their web-based vesion; it's alway current and no software gets installed on your PC.


Personally, even though I've been using TurboTax for over 10 years, I will be using a different tax preparerer this year. I find their association with this kind of DRM crap distastful.

UK online returns (4, Interesting)

larien (5608) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314365)

Here in the UK, we're being encouraged to do returns online. As I had to fill one in for 2001/2002 (things like having a private pension etc & being in the higher tax bracket meant I was due a refund), I figured I might as well. From the web site, I was able to enter details for all my incomings & outgoings in forms. At the end of it all, it calculated my tax due & tax paid (via PAYE and tax deducted at source) and offered to give me a refund either by cheque in the mail, a higher tax code for next year (to recover it) or even by direct bank transfer (which I chose).

All in all, pretty painless as well as free...:)

Re:UK online returns (1)

bsmoor01 (150458) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314450)

The US government once offered a program to do your taxes for you. It was free, I believe. Too bad it was heavily slanted to benefit the government. Do you trust your government enough that they will give you all teh deductions you're due? I don't.

DRM schemes for dummys.. (0, Insightful)

k98sven (324383) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314377)

It's just another example of how stupid most DRM schemes are.

Ok, maybe this one isn't so stupid, it might take the cracker, oh say..
a few minutes longer to figure this out than if they'd written to the system registry instead.

Perhaps futile is a better word?
Even managment should be able to figure this out:
The user has the same degree of control over his machine as software does.
Either you seperate these freedoms (read: Palladium) or you do something non-standard
(e.g. non-redbook-CD protection methods), in the latter case you will break something.

Now selling broken software is one thing, but selling software likely to clobber the
rest of your system, that's just plain crapware.

(Hmm, and what if some other piece of software uses the same DRM scheme
and writes over the same sector again, then what does Joe Sixpack do?)

what with all the protest madness... (1)

Sebastopol (189276) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314378)


hm. i was thinking. would it make sense for the /. community at large to start an anti-turbotax campaign to reach the minds of the non-techie community?

i was thinking we could print up thousands of 3x4" flyers that point out the security hazards of turbotax (in layspeak), and then sneak around to OfficeMAX's and affix them to the point-of-sale display racks, or stuff them into boxes.

i don't know exactly what they would say that would get the message across correctly. "spyware inside", "or user beware: this program does bad things to your machine"... eh, i'm bad at slogans, but it seems like the people should know. and it wouldn't be to hard for a handful of people each major city get some bad press for intuit.

any ideas?

Poor design? (1)

rmdyer (267137) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314383)

Why didn't they just use a similar technique to what XP uses where you fingerprint the PC by using version strings and chipset codes then xor that with your serial number?

Hmmm...what does change when you move your hard drive from one PC to another?

Same crap every year (1)

DigiitalWiz (411279) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314388)

These guys are famous for doing sh* like this every year.

How many other programs do this? (4, Interesting)

wiggys (621350) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314389)

I installed Autocad 2000i on a computer a couple of years ago. Anyway, the user managed to completely screw up his computer in such a way that we had to reformat and reinstall Windows 2000 (even FDISK was used). When the OS was reinstalled we tried installing Autocad but the software informed us that our 30-day trial period had ended and we must contact Autodesk to register. So... where was the info written to?

But that's not all. Recently The Register ran a story [theregister.co.uk] which talked about how a stolen tablet PC had been traced over the net. The security software installed on this notebook (Computrace) supposedly "involves a tamper resistant agent that resides on the hard disk of PCs. Even formatting a drive will not erase this agent."

Now, I for one doubt those claims (Partition Magic would surely be able to zap the software, and the software wouldn't run if Linux was installed etc) but if it is true then who knows what else could be written to inaccessible (by the user at least) parts of the hard-disk?

It gets worse. The Computrace software creates a backdoor in your system which allows Computrace (and anyone else who figures out how to use it) to silently delete files from your drive). It also uses cloaking software which "is silent and invisible and will not be detected by looking at the disk directory or running a utility that examines RAM."

Claims are also made that it can worm its way through firewalls. Big claims indeed (perhaps too big without some clarification... the devil's in the details) but if this software is sold to the public by a private firm, what the heck could Government departments install on our computers to track what we do?

IN SOVIET RUSSIA ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314393)

boot sector writes to YOU!

If you have to use Turbo Tax.... (2, Informative)

sven7 (35290) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314399)

Use their Web service instead of installing their software...

I wonder... (2, Funny)

seldolivaw (179178) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314401)

If you use a pirated copy of tax submission software, can you still declare it as an expense?

Also has Spyware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314409)

Turbo Tax, Also has spyware i.e. When you connect to the net, it will send you your Computer Info (Your Windows Registered User Name and some other data) to reduce Software pirating.

as long as it works .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314410)

who cares?

The ultimate tax software! (5, Funny)

InfinityWpi (175421) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314419)

Yes, our new tax software does to your hard drive what the IRS is going to do to you!

Flood tech support (1)

Low Key (125213) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314423)

Why not organize a flood of calls to their tech support by Slashdotters. Maybe this will send them the correct message.

I don't personally own it, so as far as I can see the only thing that would twart the effort is if you have to enter a registration/serial number before you can talk to a representative.

Evil (2, Insightful)

sepluv (641107) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314424)

This is just crazy...it will just piss off their customers and is not even effective (in fact it is extremely easy to circumvent). If they do not prominently warn about this then it is criminal. People who have programs (e.g.: AV software) to stop this or replace their boot sector after TurboTax FUBAR it will not be able to use the software and othe people will have their machines ruined by it. Many mundane M$ W*nd*ze users have dual-boot or utilities in the boot sector. Basically it looks like a virus and quacks like a virus. We should treat it as such.

Tax preparation for Macintosh (2, Interesting)

Rick Genter (315800) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314432)

Three questions:

1) Does TurboTax for the Mac include any of this DRM nonsense?
2) What other tax preparation software is available for the Mac (OS X, please)?
3) Doesn't anyone else feel that "just use the web version" is NOT an option due to privacy concerns? (I don't know about you, but I sure don't want my private financial information stored on someone else's web server...)

Back in the day... (1)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314433)

I used to sell tax software at a large office supply chain. I recall people being perpetually pissed off that they wouldn't release the state tax portion until long after the federal version, that they both cost upwards of 20 bucks, and that they were difficult to use, got the results wrong, and basically messed things up. I had to deal with lots of angry small business owners, and middle class doityerselfers.

I don't see why anyone should use this stuff - I've heard that some states are going to go to a web based form, and bypass all the tax software. That would be great; as tax payers (you pay for congresswhores to write this crap), you should demand tax code that is accessable and understandable to those without a 4 year degree in economics/accounting/tax law, and

For twenty some bucks, this software fits in the 'you get what you paid for' catagory. Don't use it. Do your own, or find an accountant.

Of course, there are lots of people that don't pay taxes, protesting the size of the tax code, taxation without representation, the fact that you're taxed about 800 times for the same thing or transaction, financing the newest "War on (Fill in Blank)" goverment cash cow, subsidies to multi-national corporations, and payments to future 'terrorists'. You could go that route.

It helps to have a congresswhore in your back pocket, though.

If Windoze were a *real* OS this couldn't work (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314439)

You don't need to be root to install or run an app, and on a non-toy OS non-root users can't access the raw device.

Thanks Macroshaft.

Solution: (1)

Bendebecker (633126) | more than 11 years ago | (#5314442)

Use norton or other such apps to restore your preinstall MBR.

well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5314444)

get a Win9x bootfloppy boot up with the bootfloppy and type in:

fdisk/mbr

and you have a new MBR
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