Microsoft announced on Friday, June 3, 2005, hackers targeted its popular MSN Web site in South Korea to try to steal passwords from visitors. However, the company said it was unclear how many Internet users might have been victimized.
Microsoft said Thursday it cleaned the Web site, www.msn.co.kr, and removed the dangerous software code that unknown hackers had added earlier this week on its news page. More details emerged Friday about the hacking, which targeted subscribers of an online game called “Lineage” that is popular in Asia.
Security researchers at San Diego-based Websense Inc. discovered the break-in late Sunday during routine scans it makes against more than 250 million Web sites each week looking including The MSN site, for sources of viruses and other infections. A previous inspection by Websense of the MSN Korea site the evening of May 27 did not detect the dangerous software. An MSN director, Sohn said, it doesn’t yet know how long the dangerous programming was present.
The chronology suggests the hackers could have harvested stolen passwords from visitors to the MSN site for up to three days. But their target (passwords to game accounts) lessened the significance of the break-in since the hacker software appeared not to collect any network or banking passwords.
Microsoft’s acknowledgment of the hacking incident was the latest embarrassment for the world’s largest software company, which has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to improve security and promote consumer confidence in its products.
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