Oct. 27 -- Someone broke into Microsoft’s network and accessed the basic codes for the company’s latest software, Microsoft president Steve Ballmer said today.
“They did in fact access the source codes,” Ballmer said from Stockholm, Sweden. “You bet this is an issue of great importance. I can also assure you that we know that there has been no compromise of the integrity of the source codes, that it has not been tampered with in any way.”
But malicious hackers don’t need to tamper with the source codes to use them to create destructive software, experts said. (The source code is the basic blueprint of a piece of software, allowing programmers to disassemble it and use its parts elsewhere.)
Owners of current Microsoft products have nothing to worry about, according to the company, but the break-in may make future products more vulnerable to attacks.
“The hacker appears to have obtained some source code for the development of future products,” Microsoft spokesman Rick Miller said.
The circumstances of the break-in are, right now, mysterious. Microsoft is working with the FBI to track down the culprits and said none of their currently on-the-market software has been corrupted.
The incursion was discovered on Wednesday, Miller said, but the attackers may have had access to Microsoft systems for a considerable period of time — something under three months.
“We consistently monitor our networks looking for any irregularities on the network, and this was discovered as something that struck us as odd,” he said.
Oliver Roll, senior director of Microsoft in the United Kingdom, said he didn’t know who had broken in, or why.
Microsoft wouldn’t comment on which future products were affected. Competitors could theoretically use the code to steal features from the new products, and malicious hackers could use it to design viruses or other programs that exploit unpublicized security flaws.
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