Microsoft puts a bounty on virus writers

Microsoft Corp. today announced rewards of $250,000 each for the arrest of the writers of the SoBig and Blaster worms that attacked millions of computers running the company's Windows operating systems earlier this year.

The rewards will come from a $5 million fund established by Microsoft to shake loose information about creators of malicious code.

Blaster and the sixth variant of the SoBig virus spread quickly in August, choking servers and shutting down several networks.

Because of the difficulty in pinpointing the source of traffic on the Internet, identifying the origins of malicious code is a difficult job. The FBI reports it has arrested suspects for three of six Blaster variants, but it has not been able to close in on the authors of the original code.

The FBI did not comment directly on the rewards, but Keith Lourdeau, chief of the cybercrime section of the FBI's Cyber Division, said the agency "is grateful to Microsoft for the serious attention and priority given to finding those responsible."

Twenty-year FBI veteran Patrick Gray, now director of forensics and emergency response for Internet Security Systems Inc. of Atlanta, was all for the rewards.

"We've done that for decades for the whole line of criminal enterprises, and the results have been outstanding," Gray said. "We will get some momentum with this in the hacking community."

William Jackson writes for Government Computer News magazine

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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