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Microsoft accepted PR backlash to protect IP in Kibkalo leak

Gregg Keizer | March 28, 2014
In a post-Snowden world, company 'would have been irresponsible' if it had not acted, says expert.

Elsewhere in the EFF's post, Crocker called Microsoft's policy a "monumental problem" and a "colossal problem."

But LaMotte didn't see that Microsoft had much choice: It had to accept the PR backlash to protect what he called one of the "crown jewels" in its intellectual property portfolio.

"They weren't fishing," LaMotte contended. "These were actions to protect the most valuable part of a company, which is their IP. They had to do it. It would cost them an astronomical amount of money to rebuild that [Activation Server] technology. So the hit they will take because some bloggers object is a small price to pay."

The complaint against Kibkalo said he had encouraged the blogger to contact a hacker who could use the Activation Server SDK to write a fake product key activation server.

LaMotte returned to his take on what he called "a post-Snowden world."

"People feel emboldened and empowered to hand out proprietary information," LaMotte continued. "In most of these types of situations, firms can always have done things better, but that doesn't negate the fact that proprietary information was at risk."

Levick, said LaMotte, has advised clients -- but not Microsoft -- that have faced similar situations, and told them that it is best to be as transparent as possible in their public messaging. Yet, that doesn't mean giving away company secrets.

"There is a very thin line any company needs to walk between being transparent and transparent as possible," said LaMotte. "People expect transparency, but that doesn't mean companies shouldn't have their own mechanisms for not sharing everything. We always also encourage companies that it's important to protect their IP and corporate secrets."


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