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An Internet leak occurs when a party's confidential information is released to the public on the Internet. Various types of information and data can be, and have been, "leaked" to the Internet, the most common being personal information, computer software and source code, and artistic works such as books or albums. For example, a musical album is leaked if it has been made available to the public on the Internet before its official release date.
Source code leaks are usually caused by misconfiguration of software like CVS or FTP which allow people to get source files by exploiting, by software bugs, or by employees that have access to the sources of part of them revealing the code in order to harm the company.
There were many cases of source code leaks in the history of software development.
Also in 2003, source code to Diebold Election Systems Inc. voting machines was leaked. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Rice University published a damning critique of Diebold's products, based on an analysis of the software. They found, for example, that it would be easy to program a counterfeit voting card to work with the machines and then use it to cast multiple votes inside the voting booth.
In 2003 a Chinese hacker acquired the source code for Lineage II and sold it to someone in California who then used it to create a bootleg version of the game, powered by his own servers. Despite warnings from NCSoft that pirating an online game was considered illegal, he continued doing so for a few years, until the Federal Bureau of Investigation finally raided his home in 2007, seized the servers and permanently disabled the website that fronted his bootleg version of Lineage II, turning it into a chilling warning to anyone who would dare steal intellectual property.
In 2003, one year after 3dfx was bought by Nvidia and support ended, the source code for their drivers leaked, resulting in fan-made, updated drivers.
In 2004, a large portion of Windows NT 4.0's source code and a small percentage (reportedly about 15%) of Windows 2000's were leaked online. The Windows 2000 source code leak was analysed by a writer for (now defunct) website Kuro5hin who noted that while the code was generally well written, allegedly "there are a dozen or so 'fucks' and 'shits', and hundreds of 'craps'." The writer also noted that there were a lot of code hacks, with the "uglier" ones mostly being for compatibility with older programs and some hardware. It was feared that because of the leak, the number of security exploits would increase due to wider scrutiny of the source code. It was later discovered that the source of the leak originated from Mainsoft.
Also in 2004, partial (800 MB) proprietary source code that drives Cisco Systems' networking hardware was made available in the internet. The site posted two files of source code written in the C programming language, which apparently enables some next-generation IPv6 functionality. News of the latest source code leak appeared on a Russian security site.
In 2006, Anonymous hackers stole source code (about 1 GiB) for Symantec's pcAnywhere from the company's network. While confirmed in January 2012, it is still unclear how the hackers accessed the network.
On May 20, 2011, EVE Online's source code was published by someone on a GitHub repository. After being online for four days, CCP Games issued a DMCA take-down request which was followed by GitHub.
In late 1998, a number of confidential Microsoft documents later dubbed the Halloween documents were leaked to Eric S. Raymond, an activist in the open-source software movement, who published and commented on them online. The documents revealed that internally Microsoft viewed free and open-source software such as Linux as technologically competitive and a major threat for Microsoft's dominance in the market, and they discussed strategies to combat them. The discovery caused a public controversy. The documents were also used as evidence in several court cases.
Nintendo's crossover fighting video game series Super Smash Bros. has a history of having unconfirmed content leaked. While the first two third games predated its online community, every game since has been leaked in some form:
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U was afflicted in August 2014 by the "ESRB leak", where many screenshots and limited video footage of the 3DS version were leaked by a supposed member of the ESRB. The leak gained traction very quickly due to the screenshots mostly containing elements that the game ratings board would be interested in, such as trophies of suggestively-dressed female characters (some of which were later found to be edited or cut altogether in the final game).
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was leaked in its entirety two weeks before its release, allowing many to play and datamine in advance. While the entire roster of characters and stages had already been officially revealed, many unrevealed collectibles, music tracks, and story elements were discovered and distributed. This prompted Nintendo to issue copyright strikes to many YouTube and Twitch channels.
On January 31, 2014 the original uncensored version of the South Park episode "201" was leaked, when it was illegally pulled from the South Park Studios servers and was posted online in its entirety without any approval by Comedy Central. The episode was heavily censored by the network when it aired in 2010 against the will of series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and was never formally released uncensored to the public. The episode was the second in a two parter and was censored after the airing of the first part as a result of death threats from Islamic extremists who were angry of the episode's storyline satirizing censorship of depictions of Muhammad.
On March 13, 2016, the full list of qualifying teams and first round match-ups for the 2016 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament leaked on Twitter in the midst of a television special being broadcast by CBS to officially unveil them. The leak exacerbated criticism of a new, two-hour format for the selection broadcast, which was criticized for revealing the full tournament bracket at a slower pace than in previous years.
^The heavenly jukebox on The Atlantic"To show industries how to use the codec, MPEG cobbled together a free sample program that converted music into MP3 files. The demonstration software created poor-quality sound, and Fraunhofer did not intend that it be used. The software's "source code"—its underlying instructions—was stored on an easily accessible computer at the University of Erlangen, from which it was downloaded by one SoloH, a hacker in the Netherlands (and, one assumes, a Star Wars fan). SoloH revamped the source code to produce software that converted compact-disc tracks into music files of acceptable quality." (2000)
^Bertolone, Giorgio (2011-03-12). "Interview with Kevin Klemmick - Lead Software Engineer for Falcon 4.0". Cleared-To-Engage. Archived from the original on 2011-03-18. Retrieved 2014-08-31. [C2E] In 2000 the source code of Falcon 4.0 leaked out and after that groups of volunteers were able to make fixes and enhancements that assured the longevity of this sim. Do you see the source code leak as a good or bad event? [Klemmick] "Absolutely a good event. In fact I wish I’d known who did it so I could thank them. I honestly think this should be standard procedure for companies that decide not to continue to support a code base."
^Baio, Andy (Apr 17, 2008). "Milliways: Infocom's Unreleased Sequel to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". waxy.org. Retrieved 2016-01-26. From an anonymous source close to the company, I've found myself in possession of the "Infocom Drive" — a complete backup of Infocom's shared network drive from 1989.[...] Among the assets included: design documents, email archives, employee phone numbers, sales figures, internal meeting notes, corporate newsletters, and the source code and game files for every released and unreleased game Infocom made