Microsoft Lures Another McAfee Security Guru

Updated: Veteran anti-virus researcher Jimmy Kuo is the latest high-profile addition to the software giant's security stable.

Microsoft has added another high-profile IT threat researcher to its growing security team, this time luring Jimmy Kuo, a research fellow at anti-virus software maker McAfees AVERT Labs.

According to multiple sources within the anti-virus community, Kuo has resigned from his longtime position at the anti-virus software maker to take on a new job at Microsoft. Kuo, who has been working in McAfees AVERT (AntiVirus and Vulnerability Emergency Response Team) Labs since the outfit was started in 1995, will reportedly serve as an anti-virus "guru-at-large" at Microsoft, which is rapidly expanding its security software business.

McAfee officials said that Kuo is no longer with the company, and Microsoft officials later confirmed that Kuo is in fact joining the software giant.

A company spokesperson said Kuo will serve as a senior security researcher with Microsofts Security Research and Response team. Attempts to reach Kuo directly via e-mail were unsuccessful.

The hiring away of Kuo from Santa Clara, Calif.-based McAfee represents the second major personnel defection from the security software maker to Microsoft in just the last month alone. In mid-August, Microsoft announced that it had hired veteran virus-hunter Vincent "Vinny" Gullotto to head up a new Security Research and Response team, a move that some believe lends instant credibility to the software makers push into the Internet security market.

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Kuo, who is credited by McAfee for discovering the destructive Melissa virus in 1999, is considered by some to be a more significant hiring on the part of Microsoft than even Gullotto. In a news release celebrating the 10-year anniversary of its AVERT Labs in 2005, McAfee highlighted Kuo as one of its top security experts, and the researcher was awarded the Fed 100 Award for his work on the Melissa virus. He also serves as a police reserve specialist for the Hillsboro, Ore., police department.

In addition to his well-publicized work at McAfee, Kuo is involved with several influential industry groups, most notably the Computer Antivirus Research Organization, an informal group of experts working together since 1990 to study malware in both the corporate and academic arenas.

Described by at least one other security specialist as an "old-school researcher," Kuo is also a participant in the European Institute of Computer Anti-virus, another high-profile organization in the malware intelligence community, which was launched by a number of the participants in CARO.

Few specific details appear to be known regarding the scope of Kuos new role at Microsoft, which is based in Redmond, Wash. For his part, Gullotto, an anti-virus ace who served stints at McAfee and security market leader Symantec, is serving as general manager of the companys new Security Research and Response operation.

eWEEK Senior Writer Ryan Naraine contributed to this report.

Editors Note: This story was updated to add confirmation from Microsoft.

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