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05 Nov 2003

Microsoft tempts computer underground with $500,000 reward to inform on virus writers, Sophos comments

Microsoft is offering a reward for capturing virus writers
Microsoft is offering a reward for capturing virus writers

According to media reports Microsoft is offering two $250,000 bounties for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the people behind the Blaster and Sobig worms.

In August the W32/Blaster-A worm infected many unprotected home and business computers, mocked Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, and attempted to launch a denial of service attack against a critical Microsoft security update website. The worm exploited a critical security hole in versions of Microsoft Windows.

Just days later the W32/Sobig-F worm, which spread on the Windows platform, bombarded email users around the world, clogging up email servers. Many companies reported receiving hundreds of thousands of infected emails every day, severely slowing down their email infrastructure.

"Virus writers have damaged Microsoft's reputation by concentrating on writing viruses which spread on Microsoft operating systems. It's no surprise to hear that they are fed up with this situation and prepared to offer a reward for the capture of these virus writers," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "There must be people out there in the computer underground who know who is responsible for the creation of these malicious worms. Offering a total of $500,000 will be a great temptation for someone to break their silence - and do all legitimate users of the internet a favour."

Recently, two men were named in connection with variants of the Blaster internet worm. Jeffrey Lee Parson was arrested by the FBI in late August, and Dan Dumitru Ciobanu was charged in Romania. However, neither of these cases are connected to the writing of the original - and most widespread - version of the Blaster worm.

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 USA, the FBI or Secret Service can be contacted via any local field office.

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.