Computer Crime Research Center


Microsoft thief to go to jail

Date: January 30, 2006
Source: Australian IT

A US federal judge has sentenced a convicted hacker known as "illwill" to two years in prison for selling the code for Microsoft's closely-guarded Windows operating system.

William Genovese, Jr., 29, pleaded guilty last year to one count of unlawful distribution of trade secrets for putting Microsoft's source code for its Windows 4.0 and Windows 2000 programs on his website and selling it.

The plea agreement called for a sentence ranging from 10 months to 30 months in federal prison.

"I screwed up," Genovese said in court.

Genovese had 12 prior criminal convictions, including three computer-related crimes and a sexual abuse conviction, a government attorney told the hearing in federal court in Manhattan.

US District Judge William Pauley said Genovese's criminal background was the most disturbing he has encountered during his seven years as a judge.

"Mr. Genovese is a predator who has morphed through various phases of criminal activity and in the last few years has descended into the world of the internet and is well on his way to being a cyber predator," Judge Pauley said.

The Meriden, Connecticut resident also received 3 years supervised release, with numerous conditions. Among them, the Judge Pauley ordered him to register as sex offender and agree to have programs installed on his computers that monitor his activity.

Source code is the intellectual property and lifeblood of any software company since it is the basic language used to create software programs.

Microsoft learned on February 12, 2004 that portions of the code were released on the internet. That same day, Genovese offered the source code for sale on his website. He received a total of $US40 for selling the code to Microsoft investigators.

Genovese will surrender himself to federal prison authorities on March 14.
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