Feeds

MS puts $250k bounty on virus authors' heads

Bring me the head of Alfredo VXer

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

Updated Microsoft today announced two $250,000 rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the virus authors behind the infamous Sobig and Blaster worms.

The rewards, part of a larger scheme, were announced in joint press conference with the FBI, the US Secret Service, Microsoft and Interpol in Washington today.

At the conference, Microsoft announced the creation of the Anti-Virus Reward Program, initially funded with $5 million, to "help law enforcement agencies identify and bring to justice those who illegally release damaging worms, viruses and other types of malicious code on the Internet".

Microsoft's program is believed to be the first time financial rewards have been offered in a computer crime case, but rewards for the arrest and conviction of criminals are commonplace in other types of investigations. Microsoft will put up the money for the reward but it will be up to investigators to decide if anyone qualifies for the bounties.

Two people have already been arrested by the FBI for releasing variants of the Blaster worm. One of those alleged virus authors, Jeffrey Lee Parson, was only arrested after a tip-off. It's unclear whether Microsoft's bounty is up for grabs for the individuals who alerted the authorities in this case.

No-one has been arrested for creating the Sobig virus.

Fistful of dollars

Senior Microsoft executives have been placing an increasingly strong emphasis on talking up Redmond's security efforts in recent months, amid concern that the continued tide of Windows-specific security vulnerabilities and viruses might erode Microsoft's bottom line.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has even taken to making Wild West analogies, a line of thinking that's now been taken to its natural conclusion with the offer of a bounty against the cyber criminals responsible for creating Blaster and Sobig.

Will VX writers turn fink for MS?

In August the original Blaster worm infected many unprotected home and business computers and attempted to launch a denial of service attack against Microsoft security update website. The worm exploited a critical security hole in the RPC component of Windows to spread.

Adding insult to injury, the worm contained a message mocking Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.

Just days later the Sobig-F worm, which spread on the Windows platform, bombarded email users around the world. Many companies reported receiving hundreds of thousands of infected emails every day, severely slowing down their email infrastructure.

"Virus writers have damaged Microsoft's reputation by concentrating on writing viruses which spread on Microsoft operating systems. It's no surprise to hear that they are fed up with this situation and prepared to offer a reward for the capture of these virus writers," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos.

"There must be people out there in the computer underground who know who is responsible for the creation of these malicious worms. Offering a total of $500,000 will be a great temptation for someone to break their silence - and do all legitimate users of the internet a favour," he added. ®

Related Stories

Telia blocks spam-sending Zombie PCs
Sobig-F is dead
Juvenile arrested in Blaster worm probe
Feds sexed up case - Blaster suspect
Parson not dumbest virus writer ever, shock!
The trouble with anti-virus
Ballmer to crackers: this PC ain't big enough for the both of us
Microsoft Q1 profits up

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
Think crypto hides you from spooks on Facebook? THINK AGAIN
Traffic fingerprints reveal all, say boffins
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.