Microsoft puts a bounty on virus writers

Stepping up its battle against computer viruses and worms, Microsoft Corp. has established a US$5-million fund to pay rewards for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for releasing malicious code, the company said.

The first bounties set in the “Anti-Virus Reward Program” are two US$250,000 rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the creators of the Blaster and Sobig worms, Microsoft said in a statement.

Both Blaster and Sobig attacked systems running Microsoft’s Windows operating system and wreaked havoc in August.

Worms and viruses are “criminal attacks” on everyone who uses the Internet, Brad Smith, senior vice-president and general counsel at Microsoft said in the statement.

Although arrests were made in connection with two variants of the Blaster worm, those responsible for the original remain at large. No arrests have been made in connection with the Sobig worm, which was first detected in January.

Microsoft announced the reward fund Wednesday at a news conference in Washington, D.C., together with representatives of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service and Interpol. Those agencies investigate cybercrime. Information about the any worms or viruses should go to them, Microsoft said.

The rewards are payable to residents of any country, according to the laws of that country, Microsoft said.