The hackers responsible for the Back Orifice tool, which allows users to break into Windows NT networks, are set to release a new version next week at the DEF CON tradeshow in Las Vegas. Back Orifice, which takes its name from Microsoft's BackOffice suite, usually is delivered as an email attachment, which gets a virus into a local network when run. This virus then makes the network susceptible to attack.

The group that makes Back Orifice says that they're simply trying to point out vulnerabilities in Windows NT, but Microsoft isn't amused: The company says Back Orifice is simply a malicious threat to security on the Internet.

"They have no other intent than maliciousness," says Microsoft's lead product manager for Windows NT security, Jason Garns. "Unfortunately, they view this as being a game."

Microsoft also says that Back Orifice doesn't actually prove anything about the security in Windows NT.

"It does not take advantage of any security vulnerability in Windows NT. It attacks people, not technology," said Garns. "It was not created for the benefit and benevolence of users."

Since the original Back Orifice was released last summer, most NT installations have been patch to prevent the program from causing any harm. But the new version offers a yet-unknown danger. We'll know more next week when the tool is made public