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Ex-Microsoft employee charged with leaking trade secrets

The Russian national leaked Windows pre-release software updates to a blogger in 2012.

Microsoft HQ sign

Former Microsoft employee Alex Kibkalo has been charged with leaking trade secrets to a blogger.

Kibkalo uploaded proprietary software, including pre-release updates of Windows 8 RT and the Microsoft Activation Server Software Development Kit (SDK) to a computer in Washington and his personal Skydrive account.

The employee had worked for Microsoft for seven years, but had received a bad performance review in 2012 and threatened to resign if the company refused to amend the document.

When Microsoft wouldn't change it, Kikbalo decided to take revenge by leaking secrets to a blogger.

The blogger has remained anonymous, but he is allegedly known in the online community as someone who has leaked screenshots of pre-release version of Windows.

A Microsoft spokesperson told Reuters: "We take protection of our intellectual property very seriously, including cooperating with law-enforcement agencies who are investigating potential criminal actions by our employees or others."

Christian Toon, head of information risk at Iron Mountain, a company that has been investigating how people take revenge against employers, said: "This particular incident is a classic example of an employee taking confidential information in revenge for feeling wronged by the company they work for."

Toon said this incident highlights that companies need to address the security issues posed by disgruntled employees.

Toon added: "Our research has shown that a worrying 11 per cent of employees in Europe would deliberately remove confidential or sensitive information from the office when feeling wronged.

"In fact, the study of office workers across the UK shows a surprising number are motivated to lash out against employers when either they've been held responsible for something they believe wasn't their fault (21 per cent) or treated unkindly (19 per cent)."

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