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Deported Russian (Spy?) Worked At Microsoft 162

Posted by timothy
from the sure-why-not dept.
subtropolis writes "KOMO News in Seattle is reporting that a recently-deported 23-yr-old Russian man 'appears to have ties to the recently-exposed Russian counterintelligence' (according to unnamed Feds). The article states that he admitted to unspecified immigration violations and was promptly shown the door on Tuesday. It also says that 'Microsoft confirms Karetnikov worked as an entry-level software tester for less than a year.' So, I'm thinking that MS had better take a really good at their logs for that time. He may have got in at 'entry-level' but his abilities may have been a fair bit beyond that. ... Interestingly, his admission to mere 'violations' and swift departure would be right in line with how this swap has gone down. The four Russians who were flown to Britain and the US had to first sign a confession before President Medvedev granted them pardons." The same news is at CBS News, too.
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Deported Russian (Spy?) Worked At Microsoft

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  • In Soviet Russia, Microsoft spies on you!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by somaTh (1154199)
      No, no, no. In Soviet Russia, you enforce DRM on Microsoft.
    • No Secret Smirnoff (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sgt_doom (655561)
      Exactly! Evidently everyone has forgotten that no too long ago Micro$oft opened up their Windows source code to the Peoples Republic of China, a k a the Totalitarian Fascist State, etc.

      The only secret this tovarisch picked up was free yogurt, softdrinks and coffee at MS....

  • Aurora, anyone?

    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @02:59PM (#32904760) Homepage Journal

      Ah... now here's someone who has been paying attention

      Obviously, the Russians were after something other than the Windows source code. Microsoft does a lot more than Windows; maybe this had to do with Office, Microsoft's online service offerings, Exchange Server, SQL Server etc. You know, stuff that wouldn't be in the WIndows 7 source code (bear in mind that Windows 7 is a client OS)

      • They wanted the secret of Ballmer's monkey dance!

      • by moosesocks (264553) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @03:29PM (#32905178) Homepage

        Speaking of paying attention, has he actually been formally accused of anything beyond immigration violations?

        The story seems awfully speculative. Good on the feds for doing their diligence, but as far as I can tell, there's no hard evidence linking him to anything.

        • Speaking of paying attention, has he actually been formally accused of anything beyond immigration violations?

          The article says no. And I'm not surprised that there's no hard evidence linking him to anything. Wouldn't you expect that a Russian counterintelligence agent would necessarily be rather good at hiding his tracks?

          • And I'm not surprised that there's no hard evidence linking him to anything. Wouldn't you expect that a Russian counterintelligence agent would necessarily be rather good at hiding his tracks?

            Well, that's some terrifying logic right there. He turned me into a newt!

      • by houghi (78078)

        Or perhaps they do not trust Microsoft and suspect them on holding things back.

        • by unitron (5733)

          Or perhaps they do not trust Microsoft and suspect them on holding things back.

          Then I guess that makes all of us honorary Russians.

      • Dood! Morgan greywolf! You are on to something, big buy!

        They evidently heard of the infamous "Uncle Bob" interface written by Mrs. Microsoft (Melissa French Gates), and had to have it......

      • Ah... now here's someone who has been paying attention

        Obviously, the Russians were after something other than the Windows source code. Microsoft does a lot more than Windows; maybe this had to do with Office, Microsoft's online service offerings, Exchange Server, SQL Server etc. You know, stuff that wouldn't be in the WIndows 7 source code (bear in mind that Windows 7 is a client OS)

        Or more likely, business strategy, research & development direction, or contract bid pricing. Only a geek would assume he was in it for teh codez.

      • by gbjbaanb (229885)

        Obviously, the Russians were after something other than the Windows source code. ... You know, stuff that wouldn't be in the WIndows 7 source code

        You mean the secret NSA backdoor keys! of course, because they're not in the Windows 7 source code, ok. right. *wink* :)

    • by bsDaemon (87307) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @03:05PM (#32904846)

      It's pretty easy to look at the public details of these ops from today's vantage point and go "that's stupid," but remember when these ops were first started the world was different. Dramatically different in the case of the spies which had been here 10 or 20 years, although not so much in this case. It's only been a year. But a year ago, the FSB didn't have a contract with Microsoft for the source code, and so access to that was worth a little more.

      When some of the 10 spies that were deported recently were originally placed here, we didn't live with the constant flood of information that we do today. It wasn't as easy as going to washingtonpost.com or reading someone's blog to find out what was going on in the debate on certain issues. You had to wait, for news broadcasts or to get hold of a copy of a paper. Having someone get to know an individual who was an insider and to innocently ask some questions every now and then could actually pay dividends. And once an agency has already invested time and money training operatives, creating their legends and getting them into place, they're not going to just pull them out. They might be useful for something else later. This is type of work is like a marathon, not a sprint.

    • by hodet (620484)
      From the way they operated he may have taken pictures of the secret source code with a Walmart disposable film camera and handed the film off to another operative in a lunch bag at the train station.
    • microsoft has freely given its source code to the kgb (rolls eyes):

      http://tech.slashdot.org/story/10/07/09/0042238/Microsoft-Opens-Source-Code-To-KGBs-Successor-Agency [slashdot.org]

      It's not just governments. Microsoft gives some college faculty and students complete access to Windows source code. They have to be part of a research team doing something Microsoft finds interesting, sign NDAs, etc. Microsoft gets access to their work but there are no restrictions on publishing their research. A friend was on such a team when he was a grad student.

    • by Locutus (9039) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @03:21PM (#32905062)
      They don't, but he must have figured out that if he was working for a counter intelligence ring then working at Microsoft where everything runs counter to intelligence is the perfect hiding place.

      Remember, the ads for BING are all about there being too many links. You know, links, the things offered to you based on the search criteria you entered. Somehow, fewer links are better. And let's not forget the pretty background which makes you feel happy to see so few responses to your query.

      LoB
      • bing is a case of kgb industrial sabotage?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Culture20 (968837)
      Not all spy work is intelligence gathering. Sometimes it is guidance, carefully maneuvering targets to do things. Who did he go drinking with after work from MS? Who could he have influenced? Sometimes spy work is assassination. Did anyone go missing?
      • by tehcyder (746570)

        Sometimes spy work is assassination. Did anyone go missing?

        I don't think anyone at Microsoft has seen Bill Gates for a while now...

  • by koan (80826) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @02:51PM (#32904630)

    Wouldn't that be something if you could rootkit a master ISO for M$'s Windows retail disk.

    It would explain so much...

    • by Mia'cova (691309)

      Testers don't write product code.

      • by koan (80826)

        Russian spy with access to M$'s internal network and security policies, if he knew how to hack how further could he have gotten?

        The ultimate (well to me) put a kit on a master iso that gets released in the 10's of thousands if not more.

      • by Qzukk (229616) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @04:28PM (#32905932) Journal

        Bug #12512523512
        Issue: Windows does not have Russian rootkit installed
        Status: Critical

        Steps to Reproduce:
        1) Install Windows
        2) KGB unable to access Windows remotely with secret password
        3)
        ---
        Reply: Thank you for your feedback, we believe the latest build fixes your problem!

        Status: FIXED

  • by Eberlin (570874) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @02:52PM (#32904650) Homepage

    I guess it's official -- Microsoft IS spyware!

  • by volkerdi (9854) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @02:52PM (#32904656)

    Is because Microsoft's source is closed, and a spy might have a chance to find a hole in the source code that's not obvious without the source code, or possibly would have a chance to plant something in the code. On the other hand, spies are welcome to contribute to open source. They won't be able to slip much past the massive peer review.

    • Is because Microsoft's source is closed, and a spy might have a chance to find a hole in the source code that's not obvious without the source code

      Why go thru that amount of work when they already have the source code [slashdot.org].

    • Except for the little detail here:

      http://tech.slashdot.org/story/10/07/09/0042238/Microsoft-Opens-Source-Code-To-KGBs-Successor-Agency [slashdot.org]

      Not really that necessary to have a spy poking around in source code that was handed to you on a silver platter, huh?

      • by aero6dof (415422)
        It might be nice to verify that you were given the same code as the actual... of course with all the hotfixes and SP releases, who can tell?
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They won't be able to slip much past the massive peer review.

      You mean the same "massive peer review" that stopped the OpenSSL bug that was committed by a Debian developer or the same review process that spotted the trojan in UnrealIRCD? Oh wait, it missed both of those things.

    • "The reason this is an issue Is because Microsoft's source is closed"

      Or not.

      One of the biggest "spy issues" post Perestroika was about bussiness negotiations for airliners (Boeing vs Airbus). Being Microsoft the big company it is you can bet foreing countries intelligences want to know what's happening inside and that has nothing to do with source code.

  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @02:54PM (#32904694) Homepage Journal

    "So, I'm thinking that MS had better take a really good at their logs for that time."

    He stole that word (I assume it was "look") from right under your nose! We are in some serious trouble!

  • Dang my boyfriend is Rissian-Nigerian and I need to do a background check on him. I gave him a lot of my money and bought computers for him [xeof.net]. Anyone knows a PI?
    • by middlemen (765373)
      Well you seem to have a big foot (as per your slashdot id), so maybe you can kick him with it and find out.
    • Yes, I am. Go ahead and send some money to my account in Nigeria and I will look into him for you.
  • I think the brown zune was clear proof that counter-intelligence is often found in Microsoft.
  • You've stumbled across a Russian Spy near Redmond!

  • Modern Spying (Score:3, Insightful)

    by painandgreed (692585) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @02:58PM (#32904750)
    Welcome to the new world of modern espionage. In a world where countries are less worried about invading each other than preserving and succeeding in a stable international economic market, your spies are going to be mostly industrial in nature. Who doesn't think that the CIA is out there trying to figure out what other countries are stealing from our corporations or what we can steal from somebody else's? My real wonder is how we would introduce that knowledge into our side if we got it as it would be a large potential PR blow up. Countries spying on each others military secrets is almost expected, but countries spying on other countries corporate interests so they can turn such knowledge over to their own corporate interests might actually mean war.
    • by Shompol (1690084)
      Protecting corporate IP interests suddenly became state's job as well: http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/07/06/1659255/US-Pirate-Movie-Site-DNS-Seizure-Fail [slashdot.org]
    • by sznupi (719324)

      "CIA ... trying to figure out what other countries are stealing from our corporations or what we can steal from somebody else's"? That's quite a lot of assumptions about the process already... (and actually it seems [europa.eu] like it was, also & in singular case, sort of the other way around)

      Anyway, why it would be such a big practical problem? Think insider trading type of stuff; and leverage in international treaties.

    • by alen (225700)

      i've seen news specials about this 20 years ago after the wall first fell. as soon as the warsaw pact fell apart the french and some of our allies started spying on us

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Blakey Rat (99501)

        i've seen news specials about this 20 years ago after the wall first fell. as soon as the warsaw pact fell apart the french and some of our allies started spying on us

        Did they ever stop?

        I've always assumed that every country spies on every other country, at least to some minimal extent.

        Obviously, if you're the US, you don't commit a *lot* of resources to spying on, say, Canada. But there'd be at least a small team responsible. And in that Canadian Bacon movie, all the dirt they dug up on Canada came in hand

    • by PagosaSam (884523)
      CIA official: Senator, our network just picked up something that might be useful for your re-election campaign efforts. Just remember who's your friend when our re-appropriation comes up... wink, wink.

      Senator: Thanks! (to aide)Get me the lobbyist for XYZ corp!
      Lobbyist: Thanks Senator, here's a check for your re-election campaign.
      Senator: Thanks a million! (giggle) Oh by the way here's a little something you boys might find interesting. (hands over folder...)

      See that wasn't so hard, now was it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      French intelligence, DGSE, is the only one that I know to admit that about 25% of their budget is for corporate espionage.

    • Who doesn't think that the CIA is out there trying to figure out what other countries are stealing from our corporations or what we can steal from somebody else's?

      Perhaps they are doing the first thing. But the second?

      Who would the CIA tell? Would they just go to some random company and say "have some cool tech we just discovered"?

      Government spying agencies being more along the lines of industrial espionage make more sense when you have industries that are more governmental entities than private companie

  • Really, absent evidence that he stole something, is this news in any way? He was on American soil for ten years, maybe he hacked into America's weapons arsenals too?
  • You know people stopped caring about privacy when even spies put their details on Facebook.
  • The MS spy has a counterpart at Apple too. He's doing the same kind of spying, only he's more smug and pretentious about it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by bwintx (813768)

      The MS spy has a counterpart at Apple too. He's doing the same kind of spying, only he's more smug and pretentious about it.

      Fortunately, the Apple spy doesn't hold his phone correctly, so he can't tell Moscow what he's learned. Whew.

    • So THAT's what happened to the antenna!

  • I always suspected that Windows amounted to sabotage!

  • The four Russians who were flown to Britain and the US had to first sign a confession before President Medvedev granted them pardons.

    It's hard to pardon somebody when they've admitted no wrongdoing.

  • Just what will they do with the source for Bob?
  • ...it was a Russian plot.

  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @03:37PM (#32905282) Homepage
    The man in the story was deported quickly, too quickly for intelligence services to wring him dry. When spies like him get caught, you need to do a thorough damage assessment, to find out exactly what they knew and how they got the information in the first place. If he penetrated Microsoft, we needed to know everything about it, what he got, how he got it, and who gave it to him. Why so fast? "the prospect of a public trial revealing embarrassing facts about Russian influence operations, like the targeting of a key Democratic Party financier close to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton." The [FBI's] criminal complaint stated that in February 2009 a New Jersey-based Russian, who posed as Cynthia Murphy and was later identified as SVR officer Lydia Guryev, met several times with a "prominent New York-based financier" who was active in politics and a "active fundraiser" for a "major political party, name omitted." He also was described as a "personal friend of [a current Cabinet official, name omitted]." Source [washingtontimes.com]. You can fill in the [name omitted] yourself - go ahead and guess.
  • Maybe Microsoft has tightened security in the last few years, but I doubt it. The network is pretty wide open and it isn't run like some sort of movie company with real security. A smart enough guy would be able to get in and do what ever they wanted. People routinely work at all hours and leave their computers running in offices with open doors. Screen savers aren't always password protected.

    So, if he was trying to put something into windows, then it s probably there

  • http://www.zdnet.com/blog/government/microsoft-turns-over-all-win7-and-server-source-code-to-russias-new-kgb/9191 [zdnet.com] So they already have the source code for W7, they probably need someone inside of msft so that bugs they find in the code will get fixed...
  • It should only affect the Russian version of Windows.

  • [...] worked as an entry-level software tester [...] I'm thinking that MS had better take a really good [look] at their logs for that time.

    Wow, thinking is hard, huh.

    • In Microsoft, testers aren't the guys who click buttons with a mouse. They write code - a lot of it - for automated tests and their infrastructure. It is reflected in position names, too - devs are "Software Design Engineers", testers are "Software Design Engineers in Test". Compensations between the two are on par, as well.

      (Indeed, it's often possible to find a SDET who is more technically apt than many SDEs on the same team.)

      Naturally, a "tester" like that would have access to more internal resources than

  • He convinced Russia to use insecure version of MSFT-OS all over Russia so the NSA could easily crack their computers, not to mention 8-year old computer geeks.
  • A Russian spy getting access to Microsoft's secrets might be a real boon to America. Perhaps we will learn what goes on there as well as if our government plays games with the OSs offered for sale. What better tool to spy upon people than their own operating system?

  • So THAT explains it!

  • by Lando (9348)

    What does it matter if he was or wasn't a spy and was working at Microsoft? Do people actually believe that Microsoft software is in any way secure? It's rather easy to install a key logger remotely on a Windows machine, so easy in fact there is no reason to actually consider Microsoft is in any way secure.

    Am I wrong or does the EULA basically say that nothing that Microsoft holds no responsibility for any actions that the operating system does. Furthermore, don't they basically advertise the fact that

  • These stories are going to influence many Russians working abroad and who has nothing to do with an espionage.

    Reputation of being from Eastern Europe is not a joke in itself. It is no surprise and in a way deserved since indeed there are a lot of criminals and vagabonds, who moved to the West and are noticeable. By the way, we also do not like the same criminals at the East ourselves.

    But now after these spy stories people are just scared and confused when they hear a Russian name in a business context. Seei

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