Ex-Microsoft employee who leaked Windows secrets to be deported to Russia

A former Microsoft employee charged in March with leaking Windows updates and software that validates product key codes was sentenced to a three-month prison term on Tuesday.

After he serves his sentence, Alex Kibkalo, 34, will be deported to Russia.

Kibkalo was arrested March 19 in Bellevue, Wash. for allegedly leaking pre-release software updates for Windows RT, the tablet-specific operating system, to a French blogger in July and August 2012 -- months before its release. The FBI, which was brought onto the case after a Microsoft investigation, also said Kibkalo provided the same blogger with the Activation Server SDK (software development kit), internal-only code to create the activation systems which validate product keys, Microsoft's primary anti-piracy technology.

Kibkalo, a Russian national at the time working for Microsoft in its Lebanon office, leaked the software to strike back at his employer after receiving a poor performance evaluation.

Kibkalo pleaded guilty to theft of trade secrets on March 31. In return, prosecutors said they would recommend a three-month prison term and order him to pay Microsoft $22,500 in restitution.

Documents filed this week in a Seattle federal court by Kibkalo's attorney provided more information on how Kibkalo was lured to the U.S. from Russia, where he had been working in the Moscow office of Beverly, Mass.-based 5nine Software.

"The Government timed its Complaint and Arrest Warrant to coincide with Mr. Kibkalo's pre-arranged attendance at a technology conference in Bellevue," wrote Kibkalo's attorney, Russell Leonard, in a sentencing memorandum dated June 3.

"He flew into the country (legally on a valid visa) from Moscow (where he lives), checked into his hotel in Factoria and attended several sessions of this professional meeting before being detained by the FBI and whisked away to federal court for his initial appearance (on March 17, 2014)," Leonard continued.

Although the original settlement deal specified that Kibkalo was to pay $22,500 in restitution to Microsoft, that was struck at some point: The judgment filed with the court said Kibkalo was obligated to pay just $100.

As of Thursday, Kibkalo had served 86 days in federal custody; he will be credited with time served, and thus should be released early next week. At that time, he will be deported to Russia, according to the federal prosecutor's sentencing memorandum.

"I deeply regret that I have shared that [confidential] information," Kibkalo wrote in a sentencing letter to the judge. "Having done that I have lost a job, one can only dream about. Moreover, when I have found another interesting job a year after, the echo of my mistake took that from me, too. For sure I was given good lessons, which I deserved."

Microsoft suffered some public relations blowback from the case when court documents revealed the company had examined the Hotmail.com account of Kibkalo's unidentified blogger associate without a court order. Within days, Microsoft retreated from its initial position and promised that in the future it would refer similar cases to law enforcement officials.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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This story, "Ex-Microsoft employee who leaked Windows secrets to be deported to Russia" was originally published by Computerworld.

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