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Ex-Microsoft employee busted by the feds for leaking Windows 8 to press

Microsoft

Microsoft has taken an ex-employee to court after investigations by both internal and federal counterparts found software architect, Alex Kibkalo to be stealing and leaking trade secrets from Redmond. Arrested on Wednesday, it's alleged Kibkalo leaked Windows 7 program files, Windows 8 information and anti-software piracy systems. 

According to a Microsoft executive, possible reasoning or motivation behind Kibkalo's actions include a poor performance review after spending seven years working for the company.

A Seattle-based FBI special agent reported that Microsoft brought its concerns to him back in July 2013, almost a year after corporate investigations suspected Kibkalo had leaked parts of Windows 8. He is said to have admitted to sharing information to a blogger after communications commenced on an online forum.

Kibkalo, a Russian national, is also alleged to have stolen Microsoft's "Activation Server Software Development Kit," a propriety system implemented to prevent the unauthorized copying of Microsoft software. Essentially, if allegations be true, Kibkalo has been leaking information to the public, as well as sensitive systems used to fight piracy.

Windows 8.1

The blogger in question who received information from Kibkalo went to a Microsoft employee to ask for verification, who went to a Microsoft executive instead. The code of the software development kit was then confirmed to be authentic, prompting the investigation to begin into communications between the blogger and his or her source.

Scanning through emails, Microsoft investigators located an email from Kibkalo, detailing Windows 8 hot fixes (the OS was still in development at this time). It's a serious finding and one which many companies fear when developing advanced products and attempting to innovate. Having trustworthy employees who are dedicated to not only their work but to the employer brand as well is important.

Kibkalo was set to appear in US District Court later on Wednesday for hearing. While we're always eager to learn about new technologies and products, there's no excuse for said practices to take place, including the theft of protection systems. We'll update when we learn more from the hearings.

Source: Seattlepi, via: Windows Blog Italia; thanks, Guy, for the heads up!

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Reader comments

Ex-Microsoft employee busted by the feds for leaking Windows 8 to press

140 Comments

So are we ignoring the fact that they weren't scanning through their own emails, but instead they went into the bloggers hotmail account and read through his emails to find one from a Microsoft employee... Something they say they don't do many times in their scroogled ads?...

(I don't care if they do read emails, and i use GMX anyway, but it should be noted that they did)

do you even read? he was saying windows couldn't exist if it was basically developed in the open even as open source projects prove to the contrary.

He's said if leakers were rewarded, a lot of products wouldn't ship. He didn't say anything about open source projects. You're the one comparing leaking to open source, and it's a bad comparison.

I don't think I am. And I don't think leaking a product in any way prevents it from being created because if anything, it only draws attention to it therefore making it even more popular.

Underscore "I don't think I am". Just because you "think" doesn't necessarily mean it's correct. In any case, the subject in question is W8 and it's owned by Microsoft so they have a right to do what they want with it and as they want it - just as much as Linux and Mozilla have a right to do want they want with what belongs to them.

what on earth are you talking about. what I said was that I didn't think I was saying leaking and open source are the same thing. I know this to be a fact because, well I said it :)

my counter point was to the notion that a leak means a product couldn't exist, which is quite false for leaking code doesn't prevent projects from going forward, as open source demonstrates you can develop in the open.

the notion that if a pice of code leaks, project cancelled is not just ridiculous, it is nonsense.

Linux and firefox are not innovators, nor do they expect revenues for their products (for the most part). However places like Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, etc all push the boundries in the realm of software; if they were to conduct their development in open source then there is nothing stoping any of their competitors from stealing their ideas/designs and profiting from it. Software needs to be closed source when trade secrets are involved.

well let tell you, I had tab pages in FF before IE had tabs. I had syncing in FF before IE ever imagined it. so much for your "innovation" microsoft pushign the "realms" of software LOL.

Well there you have it boys, MSFT: leading the world in innovation. I guess that's why they are only now shipping their siri-like rip off, because they are so busy innovating they can't ship on time :)

I can't wait for all that weareable tech to innovate. Where is the link to the windows SDK for that? you know the one similar to what google shipped this week? surely an innovative company like MS would be in the forefront of that. oh wait, it's late. bummer.

the Zune was really an innovation over, oh wait it was a copycat. WP was to ballmer's admission, late. Innovation?

honestly what world do you live in where MSFT is this amazing? because basically they are behind in everything mobile, their browser is basically behind everybody in features. The MSFT of today is slow, late, and copy-catting. The last innovation I must honestly give them is kinect.

 

Look at mango, half the features leaked and a lot were innovative and then they were ripped off by apple. Don't make it sound like they don't innovate at all. Obviously they don't with everything they do, but no company is 100% innovative. If you don't copy, you don't exist..

no, did you read what I was replying to?

Linux and firefox are not innovators

which is curious as linux basically leads on mobile, and FF basically has innovated more than IE ever has. 

My reply is to you, not the person you were replying to. Your reply makes Microsoft sound like they don't innovate what so ever - it's as simple as that. The while FF and Linux thing has no relevance, its just a simple reply to your comment. I'm not saying the others aren't ahead, and not sugar coating anything - i know Microsoft are pretty crap in most areas and really late to the party, but at least give a little credit where its due

actually the FF linux has ALL the relevance because that is the subject of my reply, if you've read the context.

Dude your comparison was wrong & all you are doing here is taking the attention away from that by bringing up innovation. You sign an agreement with Microsoft stating that won't sell or reveal information until its publicly available and if you do then stuff like this happens.

You don't need to be at the forefront of anything to be innovative, many people seem to confuse innovative with inventive. Companies like Apple and Microsoft can take things that already exist and do them in new or different ways and that is innovative. Being late doesn't mean they cannot be innovative, in-fact it gives them more means to be innovative.

Microsoft's software extends beyond IE you know. You think Apple want's the Linux community or Microsoft to know what they are working on in OS X or iOS, or that MSFT wants competitors to know whats in upcoming Windows 8 updates, or possibly Windows 9 development. As it stands I bet we will be seeing features currently unique to the leaked Windows 8.1 stuff in upcoming iOS and Android updates, just like what happened when Mango's features leaked. Microsoft leads in the cloud space with Azure, and in the productivy space with Office, among others by the way.

And how exactly are Linux and Firefox doing being in the open environment? oh that's right they are at the bottom of their industries. Linux is only entering new areas with Android now, with it being closed off for the most part. Firefox has stagnated so badly that IE11 is now ahead of it, and the leader (Chrome) is closed source. Where is OpenOffice? oh that's right open source killed it and it forked off into different projects. Open source is good for some things...such as collaborative design and community bug fixing, but when it comes to advancement of software it is horrible. Think about it for a moment...if something was being designed in open source that has monetary worth it will just be picked up by a company that can fund it and develop it faster than the open source community can and take advantage of it. Companies don't make money with open source, which is why it is led generally by the community.

you make some interesting points but the reality is far less promising for microsoft:

Linux is only now entering with android, yes, but boy, have they entered. It is basically over for windows in mobile. Linux (winthin android) IS the next "windows" now for the fastest growing computing segment.

Parts of Chrome are closed, but the core it draws from is open

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromium_(web_browser)

And chrome in mobile, which is increasingly the way people consume the web, is FAR more important than the stagnant declining IE desktop share. Yes off course today there are still a lot of desktops, yet growth is negative for that industry. Trends buddy, trends.

So yes, MSFT remains a great powehourse in areas of increasing irrelevance. Yet they are pretty much a non event in mobile, they aren't even on the radar in wereable tech, they just got dumped by Ford in car tech, and are basically losing the console market war.

Yeah, you can't always win, but MSFT has been basically missing the boat since 2007 and eventually that will translate into challenges in the few segments they still dominate. Hubris has been the downfall of that company who likely tells itself the same tales of past glory you recant while hoping their past acomplishments save them. And yes, you cannot always be at the forefront, but MSFT has been at the rear for far too long. It is time to show up, or die off.

MS and Apple give a very stable environment. Linux if used by a casual user, could end up messed up and even recovery on linux is complicated.

funny, my linux based nexus 7 seems quite stable, even as my surface pro 2 is having yet nother firmware problem....

And how do I know you're actually telling the truth, or even that you own a surface pro 2. You've been trolling a lot so you're probably lying a lot too.

why would I be lying about having a surface pro 2? Although they are rare because basically few want them, it isn't as if owning a surface pro 2 is a royal title or something ha ha.

Technically NetCaptor had the first tab interface, and opera had similar ideas but didn't implement it fully before Firefox did (MDI -> TDI) and both weren't open source.

MS has always lagged in browser tech so arguing there means is pointless, take Kinect and the powerful business application they have for example instead

I'd say android, based on linux, is doing better than windows ATM. Mozilla is not a for profit company, but chrome is also open source and I think it is safe to say it is doing a lot better than IE mobile.

Underscore "ATM" because this is tech and what is doing well now is not necessarily going to do well tomorrow. And your definition of "doing better" and "doing a lot better" seem to be pegged on number of users. It just mean they are more popular at the moment and doesn't mean they are better per se.

yes off course but what are the chances that windows phone will suddenly take the market by storm when:

1) they have basically been trying the same formula since 2011 and it has gotten them about 1% marketshare per year. Meaning it will be 75 years before they match android's share today.

2) windows phone 8.1 is basically windows phone 2012, incremental updates that merely bring it to levels of iOS an Chrome in 2013 as those companies get ready for the next big wave of which MSFT will not be part of: wereable tech.

3) did I mention windows phone 8.1, codename blue, basically ships over a year after the last update? A company that hopes to lead the world in mobile, needs to well, lead. Not follow.

Because I own 2 shiba inu (the dog depicted is a shiba) They are a very, very demanding breed and not for most people. People get them because they are cute then realize how much trouble they are. I hate seeing shelters and rescues with neglected and abused shibas.

We as tech lovers are a bit complicit in this culture of leaks. We salivate at the very idea of it. Just this morning WPCentral posted instructions on how to get Windows 8.1 uppdate 1 early. The employee here is obviously in the wrong but I have to wonder do I feel slight guilt from his legal woes...

I can't remember how many alpha builds of XP and vista I must have installed. you know back when "leaks" were considered "feedback" and MSFT made operating systems that were shaped by its biggest fans instead of a basement in seattle. MS: at war with its fans.

these were very distinct to what we had pre-steven sinfosky. Basically they threw windows 8 on the table and said: "it's done, look at it and test your stuff but we know what we're doing and we don't need your feedback".

it is no wonder windows 8.1 and 8.1 update 1 are basically incorporating the feedback they never got by being secretive.

That is based on your interpretation of what happend, and since you're just a troll, of course that's what you would say.

and what's your interpretation of the 180 microsoft took with windows 8.1? if they had so much feedback, why are they doing a turnaround? could it be you can defend their position which was basically: "keep your feedback to yourself, we got this" even as low sales and their latest releases show that was a mistake?

 

You are confusing when a company opens up a software to the public for beta testing and when it is not. When it is not open to the public and an employee who is presumed to be covered by an NDA and yet leaks it unauthorized, that is called stealing.

Oh, wpcentral do not do or say anything unless Microsoft is fully aware of it. They are authorized leaks, essentially not leaks at all.

Exactly, Microsoft trusted that employee not to leak. There was probably a NDA involved too. Either way, do the crime (if he's found guilty) do the time.

I remember I used to be able to download previews from microsoft for vista and XP. It was great. Developers could ensure their apps worked, customers could give feedback, OEMs could update drivers. Fast forward today and MSFT is basically at war with developers and enthusiasts. They hate the though of its biggest fans getting an early preview so they lock access and come down hard on leakers. Such a far cry from the awesome day of the past. All for what? so apple can't steal their horrible fixes for the modern UI? don't bother guys. Windows doesn't bring anything worth keepign a secret from anybody. It hasn't for ages.

No wonder windows 8 is so hated. Basically MSFT turned its back on its biggest fans.

I'm sure I've been around here longer than you, and you sir, are just another Microsoft hater blindly following the media leaching other popular beliefs without verifying them yourself.

Have fun with your delusions.

because nothing it brought was worth stealing and if the user base had been given a chance to give feedback MSFT wouldn't have to do the 180 they are doing now with 8.1 update 1.

In other words, by sticking to a policy of secrecy they created an OS that needed to be fixed post release instead of shipping the OS they are now trying to arrive at.

If windows 8 has been developed in the open, it would have shipped in its 8.1 update 1 form, or possibly in its windows 9 form since basically all MSFT has done is listen to users. what a concept.

You make a point but you do realize that every other company, like Apple, Google basically do the same? Apple recently updated Mac os to Mavericks and it did not go very smoothly for many people. Just look up on Apple forums. Plus Windows 8 was offered as a preview or beta. 8.1 update 1 or whatever they are calling it is just another consecutive large update and not necessarily an OS refresh. How are they at war with developers? I haven't seen Microsoft work this hard to entice developers to develop for its platforms and sometimes offers great deals and services to them. Not everyone hates Windows 8 btw.

the point being they had the right balance before, and only after Sinfosky basically came in and basically tried to run the division apple style did thing change. You're correct about apple, proving my point.

How are they are war? well let me tell you for I've been a developer under the MSFT banner for a LONG time. Remember WP 8.0? when did the sdk ship? yeah, remember that? they told us: hey guys, you have to re-do your apps, btw no SDK for you. Months went by. No SDK. How is that great outreach?. Then you had to be invited, which I WAS given my rep, only to be given 1 month if you were one of the chosen few. Contrast this to how they develop .NET, SQL server, anything. We get CTPs constantly, we can test our code, make changes, get it right. MSFT wins in the end. But windows? HA! the "previews" they shipped were basically only SDK functional in the sprig of that year for the general public and the OS was basically finalized. Whatever feedback you gave was ignored, unlike in prior windows releases where at least they listened if tech bloggers began complaining too much. I was at the NYC MS building on several developer sessions and basically that's when we got to try the OS and WinRT SDK. Given the drastic changes, devs were given just mere weeks to adjust and the result: low quality apps that year and horrible reviews of windows 8.

Then 8.1 came out. remember that? Rember MS doing a 180 after many of us MSDN subscribers, gold certified partners complained that the thousands of dollars we give to MS in MSDN subscriptions didn't afford us access to the release bits? MSFT finally bucked, and eventually their reps personally called and apologized to subscribers like me and others who work to make our products work with windows, not to steal their crap.

Honestly, when you've been in the dev circles around MS tech as long as I have, the years of windows 8 have been the years I've felt like MSFT just didn't give a rat about developers.

Wow did not realize about the MSDN subscriptions. Well putting it that way, it seems so that they don't care. Then again Windows 8 was incredibly rushed to get it out there. Hopefully with the new CEO and some restructuring this changes for the best for everyone. Satya said he will put more emphasis on mobile. Hopefully he sticks to his word. Being that he came from an engineering background, that's a major plus.

YES! go Satya. I have hopes for him mending the developer relation. I think he realises his company is nothing more than a beached whale being eaten alive by google and apple. //build will tell if he gets it, or if google will take over as the new "windows" of the world.

He is Russian, hell kick your ass if you said that to him. Then he'll call Chuck Norris to finish you and it'll be like FINISH HIM! In mortal combat shit and I'll be like dam what the hell just happened?

The whole Chuck Norris joke was single handedly destroyed by Norris himself after going on and on with uber-Conservative, right wing rants on his website that even fellow Republicans can't make heads or tails out of. Norris is an insane weak old man.

I don't think wpcentral mentioned this, but from the article I read, he wasn't just leaking stuff to the "press", he was conspiring with the blogger to generate and sell activation codes.

"there's no excuse for said practices to take place."
Yet if you go over to the forums you can find threads encouraging and telling how to get around such protections on the phone.

That's because wpcentral is not leaking anything - its just controlled release of information with the consent of all stakeholders. Glamorous though, eh?

A Microsoft employee is in trouble for making software public before it was ready?
Hmmm I wonder when the FBI will be having a chat with certain ex-CEOs about Windows Me and Vista?

The people who leaked from the SDK are not employees paid by Microsoft so probably no prosecution for them. It's different when you are paid to do work under an NDA arrangement and then you steal and leak the information unauthorized.

Better to add one hater than to not be able to trust paid employees under NDA arrangement doing sensitive work for the company

How stupid do you have to be to leak using the services you're stealing from. Imagine if you sent Google trade secrets over Gmail.

I think you mean a Google employee stealing trade secrets and using Gmail to send out the stolen secrets.

Better confiscate his passport or we'll be seeing him on the news wandering the streets of Crimea.

The blogger ratted the guy out rather than be an accomplice.

= how I know the blogger doesn't work for Gizmodo