Windows 8 trade secrets leaker given three-month jail term

Windows 8

A former Microsoft employee has been given a three-month prison sentence for leaking trade secrets about Windows 8 to a French blogger.

Alex Kibkalo, who worked at the software giant for seven years, pleaded guilty to uploading pre-release updates of Windows 8 RT and the Microsoft Activation Server Software Development Kit (SDK) to his personal OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) account.

He then reportedly leaked details of the release to an anonymous blogger, after Microsoft refused to amend an unfavourable performance review about Kikbalo from 2012.

At the time, he threatened to resign if Microsoft refused to amend the document. When the company refused, it is claimed this prompted him to start leaking trade secrets.

He was given a three-month prison term for the theft of trade secrets, but has served most of his sentence already as he's been incarcerated since 19 March.

He initially agreed to repay Microsoft $22,500 in damages, but court records release this week state: "The court finds the defendant is financially unable and is unlikely to become able to pay a fine and, accordingly, the imposition of a fine is waived."

As such, it's expected he'll be released within a week and deported back to Russia straight after.

IT Pro contacted Microsoft for comment on Kibkalo's sentencing, but had not received a response at the time of writing.

The case caused quite a furore when details of it first emerged in March 2014, as Kibkalo was brought to justice after Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Investigations division tracked him down by wading through the blogger's Hotmail account and MSN chat records.

The move caused outrage among privacy campaigners, despite its actions being well within the rights of the terms and conditions of use for its webmail service.

In response, the vendor released a statement at the time, saying it would not peek into anyone's Microsoft-owned email accounts unless a separate legal team decrees there is "evidence of a crime that would be sufficient to justify a court order, if one were applicable."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.