Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hackers Challenge Microsoft

LAS VEGAS -- Computer security companies are updating virus-detection software after the in-your-face launch at a hackers convention of a new tool designed for stealth invasions of networks operated by Microsoft Windows.

Despite the rapid response, however, any defense against the hacking program may prove fleeting thanks to some aggressive tactics taken by the tool's authors, an irreverent group named Cult of the Dead Cow, or CDC.

The hacking tool, called "BO2K," can aid someone to control a computer or network from a remote location. BO2K is an abbreviation for a slightly profane variation of "Back Office," the name of a program in Microsoft's Office 2000 suite of business software.

The CDC and other hackers attending the seventh annual "DefCon" convention in Las Vegas last Sunday charged that Microsoft has stubbornly refused to address a multitude of gaping security holes in Windows.

By exploiting those vulnerabilities, hackers hope to force the software company to repair them. And, raising the ante another notch, the CDC is also releasing the software code for BO2K - inviting other programmers to create mutations that would frustrate efforts to immunize computers against attack.

That vigilante-type "hactivism" was rejected by Microsoft and federal officials, including many who attended DefCon under cover - at least until they were unmasked during the convention's popular "Spot the Fed" contest.

"Our position is that Windows is a fundamentally broken product,'' said Deth Veggie, the CDC's "minister of propaganda." Like nearly every hacker, Veggie only identifies himself by his online pseudonym, partly for effect and partly out of legal concerns. "Hopefully, this will force them to fix this thing."