Microsoft Puts Up $5 Million to Catch Hackers

Microsoft raised the stakes for virus and worm authors on Wednesday by putting $5 million into a reward fund for information leading to the arrest of malware writers. Specific bounties of $250,000 each are in place for the authors of the MSBlastA worm and the Sobig virus.

Flanked by representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service and Interpol, Microsoft officials unveiled the Anti-Virus Reward Program at a news conference in Washington, D.C.

“Malicious worms and viruses are criminal attacks on everyone who uses the Internet,” Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel at Microsoft, said in a statement. “These are real crimes that hurt a lot of people. Those who release viruses on the internet are the saboteurs of cyberspace, and Microsoft wants to help the authorities catch them.”

The fund is designed to help law enforcement track down virus and worm authors by giving their associates a big enough incentive to turn them in. Microsoft framed the $5 million funding as the initial funding for program.

The Sobig virus has come out in five variants so far, starting in January. Early versions spoofed Microsoft e-mail addresses. The last known variant, Sobig.F, caused massive damage during late summer.

MSBlast, an automated worm, also caused major damage in late summer. Officials noted that although arrests have been made in connection with the B and C variants of MSBlast, no one has been arrested in connection with the A version.

Microsoft framed the program as a part of the company’s wider program to improve computer security.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.