Microsoft Offers Bounty on Virus Writers

In an allusion to the wild west, Microsoft will offer bounties to tipsters who hand over information leading to the arrest and conviction of cyber criminals.

The newly minted "Anti-Virus Reward Program," in partnership with law enforcement, has been funded by Redmond with an initial $5 million investment. Funds will be dispersed to anyone in any country, home law permitting.

In conjunction with today's announcement, the first reward of $250,000 was granted to an informant for providing information which helped close in on the author of the MSBlast.A worm. Another quarter million dollars is awaiting anyone who can uncover the originator of the equally devastating Sobig virus.

"Even as we work to make software more secure and educate users on how to protect themselves, we are also working to stamp out the criminal behavior that causes this problem," said Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel at Microsoft. "These are not just Internet crimes, cybercrimes or virtual crimes. These are real crimes that hurt a lot of people. Those who release viruses on the Internet are the saboteurs of cyberspace."

News of the program was released at the National Press Club. Representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service and Interpol stood alongside Microsoft during the press conference.

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