Computer Crime Research Center


Alleged hacker is Microsoft insider

Date: July 13, 2004
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Dmitri Kramarenko

A man charged with hacking into search system company AltaVista's computer networks about two years ago is now employed by Microsoft Corp, reportedly working on search technology.

Laurent Chavet, 29, was detained by FBI a week ago in Redmond, Washington, acting on a warrant issued in San Francisco.

Federal prosecutors allege that Chavet hacked into AltaVista's computer system to obtain software blueprints called source code and recklessly caused damage to AltaVista's computers.

Microsoft spokeswoman Tami Begasse said today that Chavet, who lives in Kirkland, a suburb of Seattle on the UD west coast, was an employee of Microsoft. She declined further comment on the nature of Chavet's employment or when he started at the company, citing Microsoft policy on not discussing personnel matters.

Generally speaking, Begasse said: "We're confident in our policies and procedures we have in place to protect our code and to ensure that employees do not bring third party code into the work place."

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, citing anonymous sources, reported that Chavet had been working on Microsoft's MSN Search effort.

In a research paper on search technology published in IBM Systems Journal, Chavet is listed as a search expert who works at Microsoft and was previously with AltaVista.

In 2003, AltaVista, based in Sunnyvale, California, was acquired by search company Overture Services, Inc, which in turn was acquired by Yahoo Inc later that year. Microsoft's MSN website currently uses both Overture's and Yahoo's search technology.

But the Redmond company has begun an aggressive effort to develop its own search technology as it tries to compete with search engine leaders Google and Yahoo. Microsoft, which has acknowledged it lags in search, hopes to play catch-up with a broadbased search tool that allows users to also scour through emails, documents and even big databases.

Court documents say Chavet worked at AltaVista from approximately June 1999 to February 2002. Beginning in late March 2002, the US attorney's office alleges in court documents, Chavet began accessing AltaVista's computers without permission, causing about $US5,000 ($A7,000) in damage over a one year period.

A spokeswoman for Overture declined to comment on Chavet's case. Assistant US Attorney Chris Sonderby, who is in charge of the California unit prosecuting the case, said The Associated Press that the allegations against Chavet "do not pertain to Microsoft".

Chavet was released on a $US10,000 ($A13,900) bond and is expected to make a court appearance on July 20 in San Francisco. Both charges carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $US250,000 ($A347,500) fine.

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2004-07-16 20:00:28 - True and thats why I have always been... Emily Grace
2004-07-13 11:52:24 - Thats complete bullshit. Laurent was... REVENGE
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