Connecticut Man Sells Micrsoft Windows Source Code

Mon Aug 29,10:38 PM ET

A Connecticut man known on the Internet as "illwill" pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court on Monday to charges relating to the theft of the source code to Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating software, considered among the company's crown jewels.

William Genovese Jr., 28, of Meriden, Conn., pleaded guilty charges related to the unlawful sale and attempted sale of the source code for Microsoft's Windows 2000 and Windows NT 4.0. The code had previously been obtained by other people and unlawfully distributed over the Internet, prosecutors said.

The source code is the blueprint in which software developers write computer programs. Access to a software program's source code can allow someone to replicate the program, and industry experts expressed concern that hackers reviewing the Microsoft software code could discover new ways to attack computers running some versions of Windows.

A federal indictment filed against Genovese in February 2004, charged that the day Microsoft learned significant portions of its source code were stolen Genovese posted a message on his Web site offering the code for sale.

Genovese was arrested when an investigator for an online security company hired by Microsoft and an undercover FBI agent downloaded the stolen source code from his Web site after sending him electronic payments for it, Manhattan U.S. Attorney David Kelley said in a news release.

Genovese faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced in the fall.

There was no published telephone listing for Genovese in Meriden, Conn. and prosecutors did not return a call seeking information about his attorney.

Microsoft had previously shared parts of its source code with some companies, U.S. agencies, foreign governments and universities under tight restrictions that prevented them from making it publicly available.

A Microsoft spokesman said in February that the company was confident the Windows blueprints weren't stolen from its own computer network.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company did not immediately return a message Monday seeking comment.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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