Microsoft announces reward program to fight computer viruses

Wednesday, November 5th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Microsoft Corp. announced Wednesday it is creating a $5 million reward program to help law enforcement identify and convict those who illegally release worms, viruses and other types of malicious programs on the Internet.

Microsoft said the first two rewards it will offer will be for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the spread of the MSBlast.A worm and the SoBig virus unleashed earlier this year.

The company offered $250,000 rewards for each.

Those two malicious programs attacked computers that ran Microsoft's Windows operating system and caused widespread problems for companies and home users earlier this year.

Microsoft executives made the announcement, flanked by representatives of the FBI, Secret Service and Interpol international police agency. Residents of any country are eligible for the rewards, officials said.

``The malicious distribution of worms and viruses ... are far from victimless crimes,'' said Keith Lourdeau, acting deputy assistant director of the FBI Cyber Division. He noted that Internet attacks have cost businesses and home users millions of dollars, with some estimates putting it into the billions.

Microsoft's software has been the target of the most serious Internet attacks over the last two years, and company founder Bill Gates has announced a ``trustworthy computing'' initiative to focus on improving the security of all of Microsoft's products.