Man Imprisoned for two years for Thieving Microsoft Code

Jailed A Connecticut man has received two years of imprisonment because of having stolen the source code to Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating software, among the company’s most prized products.

William Genovese Jr., 29, of Meriden, Conn., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley, who called Genovese “a predator who has morphed through various phases of criminal activity in the last few years.”

Genovese who was known as illwill, pleaded guilty in August to charges related to the sale and attempted sale of the source code for Microsoft’s Windows 2000 and Windows NT 4.0. The code had previously been attained by other people and unlawfully distributed over the Internet, prosecutors said.

Source code is the blueprint in which software developers write computer programs. With a software program’s source code, someone can duplicate the program. Industry experts expressed anxiety that hackers reviewing the Microsoft software code could discover new ways to attack computers running some versions of Windows.

Prosecutors said in a comment in February 2004 that Genovese posted a message on his Web site offering the code for sale on the same day that Microsoft learned significant portions of its source code were stolen.

Genovese was arrested when an investigator for an online security company hired by Microsoft and an undercover FBI agent downloaded the stolen source code from his Web site after sending him electronic payments for it.

Microsoft had previously shared parts of its source code with some companies, U.S. agencies, foreign governments and universities under tight restrictions that prohibited them from making it openly available.

A Microsoft spokesman said last year that the company was confident the Windows blueprints weren’t stolen from its own computer network.