Microsoft officials meet with Dutch hacker

AMSTERDAM -- Microsoft Corp. last week met with Dimitri, the Dutch hacker who recently mocked the software giant by hacking into one of its Web servers twice in one week.

Dimitri, a 19-year-old information technology student, visited Microsoft's Dutch office near Amsterdam airport. There he met with the company's public relations manager and three staffers, Microsoft confirmed.

Earlier this month, Dimitri, who is known only by his first name, hacked into the same Microsoft Web server twice, the second time after Microsoft had said the security hole was patched. Dimitri created files in Microsoft's system boasting of his hack and alerted the media (see story).

Both Microsoft and Dimitri were secretive about their meeting. According to experts, it's the first time Microsoft has met with someone who has hacked into a Microsoft Web server.

"We saw each other last week and had a useful conversation," said Michiel Gosens, a Microsoft spokesman in the Netherlands.

Gosens wouldn't disclose who was involved in the meeting or what was discussed. He did say all Microsoft personnel present were from the Dutch office and that the results have been reported back to Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Wash.

"I am not allowed to say anything about the meeting," Dimitri said, sounding somewhat intimidated by the software developer. "I have had enough of reporters." Since his successful hacks two weeks ago, print and broadcast journalists from around the world have approached the teenager.

Microsoft hasn't taken any steps against Dimitri. "As far as I know, I am not in any trouble," Dimitri said.

Adam Sohn, a spokesman for Microsoft in Redmond, confirmed that Microsoft hasn't "as of now" filed any charges against the Dutch hacker. Asked if the company is planning to take legal action, Sohn said, "I am not going to comment on hypothetical." Sohn also declined to comment on the meeting, stating that "the topic and character are confidential."

Experts have an explanation for the secrecy. "Obviously they were talking about security. If Dimitri found a new security problem they would want to keep that under wraps," said Elias Levy, chief technology officer at SecurityFocus.com Inc., a computer security Web site.

Levy says it is "a bit uncommon" for a hacker to visit his victim. "These sorts of meetings usually happen online or by phone. The person may fear retribution via law," Levy said. "As far as I know, this is the first time Microsoft met with somebody who hacked them."

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Copyright © 2000 IDG Communications, Inc.

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