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Microsoft Presents Toy for Hackers

Hackers have had an unfriendly attitude towards Microsoft Corp. for most of the 90s, continuously questioning the quality of security in the Windows operating system. What better way to make new friends than invite them to a big party?

Microsoft is inviting hackers to come to its site and attempt to hack a Windows 2000 Server machine. The Redmond giant has even posted ground rules for the hack attempts, trying to get hackers to be creative. First rule: make it interesting. Because the machine won’t be behind a firewall, Microsoft understands it would be simple to just flood it with resource-hogging packets.

Suggestions for the hacks are compromising user accounts, changing files and content on the server and attaining access to hidden messages "sprinkled" around the machine.

In most beta tests, users are looking to load software and scale the machine. Testing the operating system’s security, however, is difficult for most shops if there’s no "resident hacker" on staff. Using this technique Microsoft gets to put Windows 2000 security through its own beta.

"Microsoft values customer feedback and views the Windows 2000 test site as an additional outreach to gain real time customer input," says Marti Lucich, a spokesperson for Microsoft. "This site is one example of the work we are doing to ensure Windows 2000 will provide our customers with the highest level of security."

And Microsoft wants to hear from hackers about their successes and failures. To access the site, go to www.windows2000test.com. At the time this story was released (about 12:30 p.m. EDT), the location of the machine was being subjected to electrical storms, so accessing the site may be spotty. -- Brian Ploskina

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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