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Ex-Microsoft Employee Arrested, Charged With Stealing Windows Secrets

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Alex Kibkalo allegedly passed on secrets concerning various Microsoft projects to an unnamed blogger

A former Microsoft employee has been arrested following allegations that he stole trade secrets from the company and passed them on.

Software architect Alex Kibkalo faces federal criminal charges after being taken into custody last night on suspicion of leaking information about the Windows 8 and Windows 7 operating systems to an unidentified French technology blogger.

Kibkalo, a Russian national who had previously worked at Microsoft’s offices in Lebanon, allegedly leaked Windows 8 code to a blogger in mid-2012, prior to the release of the software, having apparently been angry following a poor performance review.

USB secret lock storage flash drive security © Paul Fleet ShutterstockMajor leak

According to court documents published by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, an FBI special agent based near the company’s headquarters in Redmond said that Microsoft approached him with their concerns in July 2012, nearly a year after internal investigators first suspected Kibkalo had leaked parts of Windows 8.

This initial investigation found that Kibkalo, “uploaded proprietary software including pre-release software updates for Windows 8 RT and ARM devices, as well as the Microsoft Activation Server Software Development Kit (SDK) to a computer in Redmond, Washington and subsequently to his personal Windows Live SkyDrive account.”

The SDK is particularly vital, as it is used to prevent the unauthorised copying of Microsoft programs, and could even help a hacker to reverse engineer the code used to protect them against software piracy, according to court documents.

“I would leak enterprise today probably,” Kibkalo reportedly told the blogger, who responded by saying, “Hmm… Are you sure you want to do that? Lol”, warning Kibkalo that the leak would be “pretty illegal”. Kibkalo allegedly responded with “I know :)”.

The disgruntled developer then encouraged the blogger to share this kit and other information online, the FBI agent said. The blogger went on to post screenshots of a pre-release version of Windows 8, presumably due to Kibkalo’s leak.

Corporate investigators confronted Kibkalo in September 2012, and he apparently confessed to leaked the software in an interview shortly after, as well as admitting to sharing unreleased Windows programs as well as company memos and documents.

Kibkalo is due to appear in court later next week for an initial hearing.

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