The Break-In Of The Week (11/6/00)

Okay, settle down-- everybody quit pushing. If you all relax and wait your turn like civilized human beings, sooner or later everyone will get a chance to compromise Microsoft's corporate data. At least, it sure seems that way; the buzz about the company's recent big break-in (which may have involved the theft of source code over the course of up to five weeks of stolen access by crackers unknown) has barely subsided to a dull roar, and already faithful viewer Tim Rzeznik is forwarding us InfoWorld articles about the next Microsoft crack attack. Evidently, when it comes to security, the company has more important things that have to take precedence-- like, say, extracting disk defragmenters from operating systems or something.

So here's the latest: a Dutch hacker calling himself "Dimitri" claims to have gained illicit access to Microsoft's web servers last Friday. By exploiting one of the eight gazillion documented security bugs in Microsoft's Internet Information Server product, Dimitri was able to alter the content on On top of that, once he had access, he "could add Trojan horses to software that Microsoft customers download," and could also download and decrypt "files containing administrative user names and passwords." Sure, it's not exactly on par with infiltrating Microsoft's intranet and cruising for source code, but hey, if ever there was a situation tailor-made for the old "adding insult to injury" phrase, this is it right here.

The reason this must be particularly embarrassing to Microsoft is because since the security hole in question is a known bug, there's been a patch available for weeks now to plug the leak. Obviously Microsoft doesn't even apply its own patches in a timely fashion, which probably says a lot about just what percentage of the company's customers actually stay on top of downloading and installing the plethora of bug fixes that streams steadily out of Redmond. Well, all we can say is that we hope Apple's a little more careful with its data than Microsoft is. Given how solidly Steve seems to have plugged the Amazing Wall of Leaks in months past, we imagine Apple's info is pretty safe. Nothing's 100% unbreakable, of course, but we imagine the crackers are having more fun picking on Bill than Steve anyway.

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The above scene was taken from the 11/6/00 episode:

November 6, 2000: Whatever possessed two honor students to steal $30,000 worth of Macs and then sell hot iBooks for $20 apiece? Meanwhile, Microsoft faces heat in Germany for its tenuous ties to Scientology-- is Apple in for trouble, too? And the Redmond Giant need to get better about installing patches; someone compromises one of its web sites by exploiting a known security hole...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2658: Society Made Us Do It! (11/6/00)   Oh, these damn mixed-up kids today-- using their powers for evil instead of good. Have they learned nothing from such modern moral compasses as Xena: Warrior Princess? Granted, the attention span of the average high schooler in this day and age almost makes the AtAT staff appear alert and focused by comparison (naaahhh), but surely if teens today never figure out that walking the Dark Side only leads to heartache, they're actively trying to steer clear of any sort of moral education...

  • 2659: Intolerance Can Be Fun (11/6/00)   Well, here's something we never thought we'd see: a whole country rejecting Microsoft software. Hang on, that's not the surprising bit; what has us scratching our heads in wonder is the fact that the country in question rejected the software for a reason other than the inherent suckiness of the product itself...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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