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Microsoft offers USD 250,000 for the head of conficker’s author, but is not enought asks Sophos

February 2009 by Sophos

Sophos has welcomed news that Microsoft is offering a USD 250,000 reward for information that leads to the capture and conviction of the authors of the Conficker worm which wreaked havoc for many computer users last month.

Sophos experts note that Microsoft’s reputation is always badly shaken whenever a computer virus causes widespread problems for its users, and there have been many other occasions in the past of malware designed to exploit weaknesses in the software giant’s software, or that pretended to be messages from Microsoft technical support.

"Offering substantial rewards can do no harm, but the question is whether this will be enough to entice the computer underground to inform on this criminal malware ring," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "If a culprit isn’t found then Microsoft hasn’t lost anything, and it may just encourage some cybercriminals to come forward with information. But, while a USD 250,000 reward has successfully caught teenage hackers in the past, the bounty may not offer enough temptation to inform on an organised criminal gang making big money out of malware."

In November 2003 Microsoft offered a total of USD 500,000 for the arrest and successful prosecution of the people behind the Blaster and Sobig worms, and said that it was earmarking a further USD 4.5 million bounty for the purposes of capturing future virus writers. In May 2004, Microsoft also agreed to pay USD 250,000 to a group of informants who contacted the company about Sven Jaschan, the teenage German author of the rampant Sasser and Netsky worms. This was despite there being suspicions that the informants may have themselves been involved in the case.

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