Microsoft is so fed up with the recent spate of viruses that it has declared open season on the authors who release them onto the Internet.
The software maker has created a $5 million reward fund to track down writers of worms, viruses and other malicious code. The initiative's first two bounties--to the tune of $250,000 each--will be for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the people responsible for releasing the MSBlast worm and Sobig virus.
Dubbed the Anti-Virus Reward Program, the initiative marks the latest move by Microsoft and law enforcement to put a stop to the repeated waves of attacks that have hit the Internet in the past decade. The two rewards could also jump-start federal law enforcement's seemingly stalled investigation into the attacks that infected hundreds of thousands of computers in August and September.
However, security researchers disagree on what effect the initiative will have on the underground world of virus writing. Some security experts believe that the bounty could disrupt the relationships between virus writers, effectively shutting down the loose online circles where authors meet and exchange code.
Others believe the reward won't have a practical effect, aside from marginally increasing the distrust in an already paranoid community. "Nothing will change," said Roberto Preatoni, founder of security site Zone-H.org. "I guess it's more like a publicity advertising stunt."
Microsoft isn't alone in defending against viruses; the open-source community is keeping an eye out for them as well. An unknown intruder attempted to insert a Trojan horse program into the code of the next version of the Linux kernel, stored at a publicly accessible database.
Security features of the database detected the illicit change within 24 hours, and the public database was shut down. The changes, which would have introduced a security flaw to the kernel, never became a part of the Linux code; thus, they were never a threat.
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