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Windows Source Code Security Breach Troubles Experts

Portions of the source code of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT and Windows 2000 operating systems have leaked onto the Web, but technology experts Friday disagreed over the level of risk the security breach presented to the software maker's customers.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company confirmed the unauthorized release late Thursday, marking yet another security blow to Microsoft in a week that saw worm attacks and major vulnerabilities in Windows revealed.

"It's illegal for third parties to post Microsoft source code, and we take such activity very seriously," Microsoft said in a statement posted on its Web site. "We are currently investigating these postings and are working with the appropriate law-enforcement authorities."

News of the leaked source code circulated on Windows enthusiast Web sites and throughout the cracker underground Thursday. Estimates ranged from 15 percent to almost half of the operating systems' code were available. The code, however, could not be compiled, making it impossible for someone to recreate Windows for illegal distribution.

Security firms, however, were quick to raise the alarm.

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