[ISN] Microsoft says penalty will let hackers run wild

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Fri May 10 2002 - 01:41:36 PDT

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    By D. Ian Hopper
    May 8, 2002  
    WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hackers, virus writers and software pirates could
    run rampant if Microsoft disclosed the technical product information
    that nine states have requested as an antitrust penalty, a company
    executive says.
    Jim Allchin, who oversees the Windows operating system, said that
    disclosures sought by the states "would make it easier for hackers to
    break into computer networks, for malicious individuals or
    organizations to spread destructive computer viruses and for unethical
    people to pirate" Microsoft's flagship software.
    The states want the disclosures so competitors' software can work as
    well with Windows as Microsoft's own products. The overwhelming market
    share of Windows gives Microsoft a leg up on other software makers,
    they say.
    A lawyer for the states, Kevin Hodges, pointed out that many of the
    most destructive computer attacks in recent years have targeted
    Microsoft products regardless of whether Microsoft disclosed
    particular technical data.
    "I guess it's a matter of how hard you make it," Allchin replied. "We
    have to work on our reputation for security in the marketplace."
    The states gained new hope Tuesday when the judge overseeing the case
    agreed to let them present more information on one penalty proposal.
    The nine states want Microsoft to release a version of its Windows
    operating system that will permit computer manufacturers to replace
    Microsoft features with competing products.
    Lawyers for the states asked U.S. District Judge Colleen
    Kollar-Kotelly to allow them to call an extra witness to show that the
    "modular" Windows is feasible, despite Microsoft's objections.
    Kollar-Kotelly berated the states for the late request, calling it an
    ill-conceived "tactical decision." Nevertheless, she decided to let
    the witness, independent software tester James Bach of Front Royal,
    Va., testify.
    "I think that the information should be submitted to the court, that I
    should have it," Kollar-Kotelly said.
    States' lawyer Steven Kuney said Bach will argue that Microsoft's XP
    Embedded operating system shows that Microsoft can make a modular
    version of Windows. XP Embedded is designed for small,
    limited-function devices like cash registers and automatic teller
    Many Microsoft witnesses, including Chairman Bill Gates, say that
    Microsoft is unable to make a modular Windows because the different
    features -- like the Internet browser and media player -- are
    dependent on each other.
    Microsoft earlier specifically targeted the penalty proposal in a
    motion that asked the judge to dismiss it. She has not ruled on the
    Bach's testimony, which includes a video, will come after Microsoft
    rests its case next week. The states finished their case in April, and
    Kollar-Kotelly was reluctant to let the states add on another witness.
    The original judge in the antitrust case ordered Microsoft broken into
    two companies after concluding that it illegally stifled competitors.  
    An appeals court upheld many of the violations but reversed the
    breakup order and appointed Kollar-Kotelly to determine a new
    States that rejected the government's settlement with Microsoft last
    fall and are pressing for tougher penalties are Iowa, Utah,
    Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, Kansas, Florida, Minnesota and
    West Virginia, along with the District of Columbia.
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