Microsoft hack puts spotlight on tech espionage

The software giant is hit by a break-in to its computer networks. CEO Steve Ballmer says hackers had access to some key programs.

CNET News staff
2 min read

Microsoft attack adds fuel to hacker crackdown

By CNET News.com Staff
October 29, 2000, 10:30 p.m. PT

Calling it an act of "industrial espionage," Microsoft says its internal networks are accessed by hackers. CEO Steve Ballmer confirms that hackers did see key code, but didn't make any changes to it.

Hack attacks a global concern
news analysis The recent attack on Microsoft by hackers could shape legal guidelines for international cybercrimes.

Hackers saw code for upcoming software
update Microsoft acknowledges that hackers who broke into its systems gained access to some of its key programs but did not change them.

New technologies create fresh problems
news analysis The attack on Microsoft underscores that corporate networks are still widely vulnerable to hackers, security analysts say.

Redmond network hit; FBI steps in
update The FBI opens an investigation of the break-in, following the software giant's vow to shore up its internal security.

Hackers had access for weeks
update Hackers may have done little more than poke around a few computers, although they had several weeks to explore the software giant's network.

Microsoft not the first victim
In recent months, America Online, RealNames and others also have reported incursions on their networks and Web sites.

Congress to crack down on cybercrime
Congress has been wrestling with cybercrime legislation ever since denial-of-service attacks hit online retailers eBay and Amazon.com.

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How did the Microsoft hack happen?
Richard Smith, CTO, The Privacy Foundation

Richard Heffernan
President, R.J. Heffernan Associates  
The information security expert says this type of security flaw is more common than you think. (4:55) 
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Privacy expert monitors Net with a keen eye
newsmaker A veteran computer programmer, Richard Smith knows how information collected can be manipulated in ways the developer never intended.

Illegal entry
A recent history of high-profile hacks:

February: Internet keyword service RealNames warns its users that its customer database has been hacked, and that credit card numbers and passwords may have been accessed.

February: A string of unprecedented attacks temporarily black out several of the largest e-commerce and portal sites. Authorities probing the source of the attacks on Yahoo, eBay, CNN.com and other Web sites pursue leads that point to schools including the University of California at Santa Barbara.

March: An internal prototype of Microsoft's future consumer operating system, code-named Whistler, is posted online.

April: A later test version of Whistler is leaked onto the Internet.

June: America Online says that hackers illegally compromised member accounts by means of email attachments sent to AOL employees.

September: A hacker defaces the Web sites of NASA and the Communications Workers of America, among others, with pro-Napster messages. The pranks came after a court ruling that could have forced online music service MP3.com to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for copyright infringement.

October: Microsoft enlists the help of the FBI after a hacker succeeds in breaking into the company's network.