Microsoft probes possible Windows source code leak


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Microsoft is investigating rumors that the secret code underlying its Windows NT and Windows 2000 operating systems has leaked out and is available on the Internet, a company spokeswoman said Thursday.

The supposed leak was reported by Microsoft enthusiast Web site, which called it "shocking and potentially devastating news." The source code of the two OSes (operating systems) are rumored to be spreading on a peer-to-peer file-sharing network as well as on IRC (Internet relay chat).

"The rumor regarding the availability of Microsoft source code is based on the speculation of an individual who saw a small section of unidentified code and thought it looked like Windows source code. Microsoft is looking into this as a matter of due diligence," the spokeswoman said.

IDG News Service was shown Web pages that appear to contain a directory listing of the packages of Windows 2000 and Windows NT source code, as well as some actual source code that appears to be part of the Windows NT Task Manager. The contents of the pages could not immediately be verified.

If the source code for Windows 2000 and Windows NT has indeed been leaked, the ramifications would be far reaching. A breach of the code could expose users to an increase in cyberattacks because it would make it easier for hackers to find holes in the operating systems that they can exploit. It would also mean that Microsoft's closely guarded intellectual property is now out in the open, said Joe Wilcox, a Washington, D.C.-based Jupiter Research senior analyst.

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