Theft Of Windows 8 Trade Secrets Lands Microsoft Employee In Jail
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
On Wednesday the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that Alex Kibkalo, a former senior architect at Microsoft, had been arrested for allegedly stealing Windows-related trade secrets while working for the software giant. Kibkalo, who most recently served as a director of product management at 5nine Software, faces federal criminal charges.
He allegedly leaked Windows 8 code to a tech blogger and also bragged about breaking into the Redmond, Washington campus of Microsoft. Investigators contend that he also bragged about leaking Windows 7 program files, as well as an internal system that was meant to protect the operating system from software piracy.
This included Microsoft’s “Activation Server Software Development Kit,” which is reportedly a propriety system used to prevent the unauthorized copying of Microsoft programs.
Kibkalo is a Russian national who worked at Microsoft for seven years and during that time he reportedly leaked Windows 8 code to a French technology blogger in mid-2012 – just prior to the release of the OS.
Seattlepi.com reported that Kibkalo, who is said to have admitted to passing the information to the unidentified blogger, did so after receiving a poor performance review. While he reportedly joined 5nine Software in August of last year, Kibkalo still has a bio page on Microsoft’s TechNet site.
Cnet reported that the unnamed blogger was “known to those in the Microsoft blogging community for posting screenshots of prerelease versions of the Windows operating system,” according to the complaint filed on March 17 in the US District Court of the Western District of Washington.
Seattlepi.com further reported that in September the unnamed blogger sent the stolen software – that he had been sent by Kibkalo – to another unnamed Microsoft employee to verify it. That employee then went to a Microsoft executive where the code was confirmed to be authentic.
That prompted a corporate investigation that dredged Hotmail accounts that the blogger used to contact the Microsoft worker. The blogger reportedly took great pains to protect his identity and tried to mask his location; he claimed to be in Quebec.
The Microsoft “Trustworthy Computing Investigations” team attempted to track him down, and during the search found an email from Kibkalo in which the former Microsoft employee shared a Windows 8 “hot fix” through an online hosting system. This was reportedly prior to the release of the OS to the public. Investigators with the FBI claim to have also recovered instant messages that Kibkalo exchanged with the blogger; and added that those show that the former employee was sharing trade secrets illegally.
“I would leak enterprise today probably,” Kibkalo told the blogger during an Aug. 2, 2012 exchange, according to charging papers as reported by the Seattle newspaper.
According to the reported exchange between Kibkalo and the blogger, it appears that the former Microsoft employee knew that he was providing trade secrets and that it was “pretty illegal.”
In addition Kibkalo is alleged to have bragged about also leaking large portions of Windows 7 prior to its release and that he claimed to have broken into Building 9 on the Microsoft campus in an attempt to copy a server.
The Register added that Kibkalo was ordered to be held without bail on Wednesday.
“We take protection of our intellectual property very seriously, including cooperating with law-enforcement agencies who are investigating potential criminal actions by our employees or others,” a Microsoft spokesman said in an emailed statement to Reuters, as reported by the Register.