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06 Nov 2003

Future virus writers beware! Microsoft earmarks $4.5 million bounty for capture. Sophos comments

Bill Gates of Microsoft
Bill Gates of Microsoft

As well as offering $500,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the authors of the Sobig and Blaster worms, Microsoft has also earmarked an additional $4.5 million reward fund for apprehending future virus writers.

In total, Microsoft has created a $5 million fund for rewarding people who inform against, and assist in the conviction of, virus writers.

"Microsoft has confirmed that its bottom line was hurt by virus incidents this year. In recent times major viruses have either exploited weakness in their software, or pretended to be messages from Microsoft technical support or Bill Gates - understandably they want to do everything they can to stop this," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Offering substantial rewards cannot do any harm, and may entice some members of the computer underground to come forward with information. People considering releasing viruses in the future should take note of this and think again."

"These are not just internet crimes, cybercrimes or virtual crimes. These are real crimes that hurt a lot of people," Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said at the Washington news conference yesterday announcing the bounty.

Individuals with information about the people behind any worm or virus should contact the appropriate computer crime authority in their country. In any of Interpol's 181 member countries, people with information about virus writers can contact their Interpol National Central Bureau or Interpol's international website.

In the past virus writers such as David L SmithSimon Vallor and Christopher Pile have been sentenced to prison for their activities.

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.