In 2001, Nvidia brought an enforcement action against two alleged hackers in the Netherlands, ages 19 and 21. They had posted confidential product information, intellectual property and information about unannounced products on computer fan site M3DZone, according to an Nvidia representative.
The lawsuit was brought in September, and the case was recently settled, the representative said. Terms remain confidential.
The Dutch youths could not be reached for comment.
Nvidia is a leader in the graphics chip market and supplies chips to Dell Computer as well as to Microsoft's Xbox.
The alleged hackers obtained the material by breaking through Nvidia's firewall, the representative said. In addition, they reportedly got information by posing as Nvidia employees, or as employees at strategic partners such as Microsoft, through e-mail.
The Nvidia representative said that intruders sent e-mails asking for drivers or other information, using legitimate names and e-mail addresses of Nvidia employees or employees at trusted partners. The e-mails were redirected to M3DZone, however.
The motive behind the hack was unclear. The Nvidia representative, however, indicated that the two wanted to drive hits to the M3DZone site.
"The online sites want to one-up each other, and you do that by having information other people don't," he said.
Nvidia first became aware of the invasion after viewing the site and noticing that it had obtained an inordinate amount of confidential information. The original suit was not disclosed until the settlement.