New AOL Software Leaked

Friday, August 18th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SPRINGFIELD, Va. (AP) — An unfinished version of software being developed by America Online Inc. has been prematurely leaked onto the Internet.

The software, named Gamera after a monster in the Godzilla movies, is designed to allow people to connect to AOL services like e-mail from a host of next-generation ``Web appliances'' like kitchen-counter computers.

Since last week, several Web sites have offered the software to hackers and others interested in dissecting it. It is the first AOL software designed to run on Linux, a free operating system popular among computer professionals.

The first device expected to run the software is a ``Web pad'' AOL is designing with computer manufacturer Gateway. The companies have said it will be on sale this holiday season.

AOL officials said the leak is not a security problem, since software is routinely made available to the public prior to its release to help with debugging.

``This is a nonevent. ... We put the software out there anyway, so we don't rely on that for security,'' said AOL spokesman Rich D'Amato. ``We take care of security at the server level.''

AOL officials said the software was available to thousands of employees, AOL partners and independent software developers.

D'Amato said the company is investigating to find the source of the leak ``and will take appropriate action.''

Patrick Sweeney, president and chief executive of ServerVault, a Springfield company that serves as a secure host for a variety of Web sites, said the leak itself is relatively insignificant.

``It just means that hackers got a little bit of a head start,'' he said.

A more significant issue, Sweeney said, is the fact that either an employee or a software developer that had been trusted by AOL decided to leak the software.

AOL, based in Dulles, Va., is the world's largest Internet service provider.