You're only as good as your password

Monday, 26 August 2002, 9:45 AM EST

Warren Leggett had just spent the long July 4 weekend golfing with his brother-in-law near Portland, Ore. Early the following Monday morning, his relaxing holiday ended abruptly. The chief information officer of Niku Corp., a small Silicon Valley software company, found himself plunged into a shocking case of alleged corporate espionage - one that raises troubling questions about the security of company information in the Internet Age.

It all started when Leggett's brother-in-law, Jay Berlin, a mid-level tech manager at Nike Corp., agreed to view a demonstration on July 8 of Niku's software, which helps companies collaborate on big projects over the Web. The morning of the meeting at Nike's suburban Beaverton offices, Berlin checked his voicemail - which included a message from a salesperson at Niku archrival Business Engine Software Corp. That's odd, he told Leggett. He didn't even know the firm, and he wouldn't be the one to buy such software anyway. How did they know to call him?

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