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MS source code fence jailed for two years

'Joke' backfires on illwill

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A Connecticut man was jailed for two years on Friday (27 January) after pleading guilty to offering stolen copies of Windows' source code for sale online. William Genovese, 29, of Meriden, Connecticut, pleading guilty in August 2005 to trade secret offences over his attempts to sell purloined copies of the software blueprints for Windows 2000 and Windows NT 4.

Genovese (AKA illwill) offered the stolen source code for sale via his own website at $20 a pop in February 2004, just after Microsoft announced that portions of its source code had been nicked by unidentified hackers. Genovese previously said he'd only been singled out for punishment because the software giant and police had failed to apprehend the source code theft perpetrators.

He claimed he was only doing what many other geeks were doing when the code spilled into the open in February 2004 and that the nominal fee he charged was only a "joke". Genovese was arrested after an unnamed security firm hired by Microsoft and an undercover FBI agent both made sample purchases of source code through a site run by Genovese called illmob.org. At the time, some security experts expressed concern that the source code was out in the open because it might give hackers clues in their hunt for new Windows exploits. Windows source code is normally only available to Government and large corporations under restrictions designed to stop it spilling into the public arena.

Microsoft is confident the blueprints for Windows were not obtained from servers run by the software giant, AP reports. Redmond's partners remain the most likely culprits for the leak, though this remains unconfirmed.

Genovese's 12 previous convictions include three cybercrime offences and a sexual abuse conviction, a New York federal court heard. "Genovese is a predator who has morphed through various phases of criminal activity in the last few years," said US District Judge William Pauley, who sentenced Genovese to a three year supervision order following his eventual release from prison. Genovese has been given six weeks to put his affairs in order prior to his impending incarceration, which is scheduled to begin on March 14. ®

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