Criminal inquiry into Microsoft beta-site hack under way

A criminal investigation is under way into a break-in that took place last week on a Microsoft Corp. Web site for beta testers, Microsoft said Thursday.

The site, BetaPlace.com, is aimed at people who test Microsoft products. Available at BetaPlace are unreleased versions of Windows and other Microsoft products, as well as keys to activate the software, said one beta tester, who asked not to be named.

"We can confirm that there was an illegal intrusion … last week," said a Microsoft spokeswoman in the U.K. "Due to the ongoing criminal investigation and our desire to apprehend the person or persons responsible, we can not comment further on any details."

Log-in credentials for at least one BetaPlace user were leaked and posted on the Internet, allowing nontesters to download unreleased versions of Microsoft software, according to the beta tester. The download server was shut down shortly after Microsoft discovered the leak and the passwords for all BetaPlace users were reset, according to the tester.

All BetaPlace users were contacted by Microsoft via e-mail and discussion groups, Microsoft said. The problem has been "fixed" and Microsoft is "instituting procedures to ensure an incident like this does not occur again," the spokeswoman for the Redmond, Washington, software maker said.

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