Microsoft OS source code leaked on the internet

13 Feb 2004

Rounding off a bad week for Microsoft, the company has revealed that part of the source code for two versions of its operating system have been posted illegally on the internet.

Some code from Windows 2000 and Windows NT 4.0 has been posted online, according to a statement from Microsoft about the matter. The world’s largest software company keeps its code a closely guarded secret, normally sharing it only with a limited number of partner organisations such as other program developers.

“It’s illegal for third parties to post Microsoft source code, and we take such activity very seriously,” the company said in a statement. “We are currently investigating these postings and are working with the appropriate law-enforcement authorities.”

Microsoft added that the posting does not appear to be as a result of any breach of its corporate network or internal security. Customers have apparently not been affected so far, the company claimed, adding that it would continue to monitor the situation.

Earlier this week, Microsoft issued a warning to customers to patch their operating systems after a serious software flaw was discovered which, if exploited, could present a significant security risk.

With parts of Microsoft’s source code now available over the internet, rivals could potentially see how the company writes its software. In the worst scenario, hackers could analyse the code to try and find weaknesses in the operating systems, which are used on millions of computers worldwide.

By Gordon Smith