The hacking group behind the SolarWinds compromise was able to penetrate Microsoft and access part of the source code, Microsoft said on Thursday. According to experts, this was a worrying signal of the spies’ ambitions.

Source code – the underlying set of instructions used to run software or an operating system – is usually one of the best-kept secrets of any technology company, and Microsoft has taken great care to protect it in the past.

It is not clear how much or what parts of Microsoft’s source code repositories the hackers were able to access, but the disclosure suggests that the hackers who used software company SolarWinds as a stepping stone to break into sensitive US government networks also had an interest in discovering the inner workings of Microsoft products.

Microsoft had already announced that, like other companies, it had found malicious versions of the SolarWinds software on its network, but the disclosure of the source code – in a blog post …

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