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Microsoft snubs Polish sex pseudonym

Office 2003 Bug-finder gets no credit

Microsoft has refused to credit a hacker who published code that exploited a recently patched bug in Microsoft Office 2003 because his pseudonym refers explicitly to a form of sexual intercourse… in Polish.

In the hacker world, where so much rides on reputation, Microsoft had been put into a tough position. The company generally goes out of its way to credit hackers who responsibly disclose software vulnerabilities, and by not crediting the hacker – 'Chujwamwdupe' - it may have put customers at risk by accelerating the release of attack code. After all, quickly releasing an exploit is the one way a hacker can back up his claim that he actually discovered the bug in question.

Even though the flaw, which lies in the Works File Converter, was patched the day before the exploit code was released, it will be months before all of Microsoft's customers install the updates. This means that Chujwamwdupe's code could be misused by criminals.

A member of Microsoft's security team flagged Chujwamwdupe's submission, a spokeswoman with Microsoft's public relations firm said. "One of them happened to speak the right language and brought the issue to our attention," she said. "The finder's user name could have been perceived as offensive in another language, so we credited the vendor, VeriSign iDefense Vulnerability Contributor Program (VCP), for reporting the issue to us responsibly."

VeriSign pays hackers such as Chujwamwdupe for vulnerability information so that it can give its customers better information on the bugs when Microsoft finally patches them. And while the majority of contributors use their real names, some use hacker pseudonyms.

Usually that's not a problem, said Matthew Richard, the director of iDefense's Rapid Response Team. "It really doesn't come across that often. There really aren't that many handles that are offensive," he said. Chujwamwdupe is "one of the very few that I've seen", he added.

For more security news, reviews and tutorials, see Security Advisor


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