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The two people who helped identify the creator of the infamous Sasser worm in 2004 will share a reward of $250,000, Microsoft confirmed Friday. News of the payment under the software giant's Anti Virus Reward Program comes after a German court sentenced Sven Jaschan, 19, self-confessed author of Sasser to 21 months probation and a community service order following his conviction on computer sabotage offences.

Sasser is a network aware worm that exploited a well-known Microsoft vulnerability (in Windows Local Security Authority Subsystem Service - MS04-011) to infect thousands of systems in May 2004. The worm has caused widespread disruption affecting the operations of companies ranging from Finnish bank Sampo and Germany's Deutsche Post to the UK Coastguard.

Jaschan was arrested in the village of Waffensen near Rotenburg, in northern Germany, on suspicion of writing and distributing the Sasser worm within days of the beginning of the Sasser pandemic. The teenager later confessed to police that he was both the author of Sasser and the original creator of the NetSky worm.

Jaschan was arrested after a tip-off to Microsoft from individuals (believed to be Jaschan's erstwhile friends but Microsoft is keeping their names secret) who took advantage of Microsoft's Anti-Virus Reward Program. Investigators questioned Jaschan's mates on suspicion of assisting his virus writing activities but none were charged. In a statement, Microsoft said it was a condition of its anti-virus tip-off reward that recipients had no criminal involvement in a case.

Microsoft earmarked $5m in establishing its the Anti-Virus Reward Program back in November 2003. The scheme is designed 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 is putting up the money but it is up to investigators to decide if anyone qualifies for the bounties, payable on arrest and conviction of a virus writer. The Saser reward represents the first payment under the scheme, a Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed. ®

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