In an attempt to put pressure on the criminals responsible for the Conficker worm outbreak that has infected more than 9 million Windows PCs worldwide since late December, Microsoft today announced that it will offer $250,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for illegally launching the Conficker aka Downadup worm.
Microsoft urges individuals with information on the worm to contact international law enforcement agencies and is working with several security researchers, domain name registrars and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) that oversees Internet addresses, to try to take down the servers that have been launching the Conficker attacks.
The Anti-Virus Reward program was created by Microsoft in 2003 with $5 million funds, to help law enforcement agencies bring computer virus and worm authors to justice. In 2005, Microsoft has paid a $250,000 reward to 2 individuals who helped to identify the creator of Sasser worm.
Jart Armin, editor of Hostexploit, a cybercrime research site says that
"if Conficker's author lives in a part of the world that's known to be soft on cybercrime like Russia, the Ukraine or Romania it may be hard to get a conviction. On the other hand, the $250,000 reward may be an incentive to hackers who may know who's responsible. Typically, hackers get paid about $10,000 by organized crime groups for writing an attack that reliably works on a significant number of computers"
Earlier Microsoft issued a security patch in October 2008 to help customers guard against the Conficker attack, but the worm can spread to patched systems too through removable media. The most recent news of Conficker attack is about the French fighter planes which were unable to take off without the flight parameters after the millitary databases were infected by Conficker worm as the French Millitary failed to update the systems with the security patch issued in October.
Microsoft and various other anti-virus vendors continue to spread information about the security measures to be taken against the spread of Conficker worm. More information about Conficker worm and how to protect yourself from Conficker can be found at the Microsoft and f-secure sites.