On Wednesday, an unknown attacker broke into Microsoft's Web server for public information in Taiwan, leaving the message: "Hi, Bill, welcome to the real Y2K bug."
The hacker, who signed himself as "inferno.vr," apparently exploited a known Web server vulnerability in the Microsoft Internet Information Server that hadn't been fixed. The server has hosted at the Taiwanese company, AUNET, a Microsoft spokesman says.
Microsoft public relations manager Adam Sohn says the server in Taiwan has been shut down, and the intent is to restage the Web information at one of the three data facilities around the world operated by Microsoft itself rather than a third-party hosting facility.
"These Microsoft data centers are in London, Tokyo and Seattle, and nobody has ever compromised the security of the data on these hosted servers," Sohn says. The Taiwanese information will probably be added to a server in Tokyo, he added, though Microsoft intends to keep using the URL http://www.microsoft.com.tw.
Still investigating the incident, Microsoft believes at this point that the hacker exploited a hole in Microsoft's Remote Data Server software used to let Web developers update information to the Microsoft Web server, IIS.
"We patched this back in July '98, and then again reminded customers in July '99 to install the patch," Sohn says. Ironically, the Web server on which Microsoft kept its own information in Taiwan hadn't been fixed.
Microsoft says it learned about the hack after a call from a Network World publication, looking into a tip gleaned from an Internet mailing list.