Friday, February 13, 2009

$250K Bounty Placed On Conficker Worm

The Conficker worm, also known as Downadup, has spread to millions of PCs world wide with no end in sight. The latest estimate shows the worm has infected as many as 10 million PCs. The numbers and scope of this infection have led several companies to pool resources in an attempt at finding a solution.

Thursday Microsoft announced a $250,000 reward to bring the Conficker malware bad guys to justice. The company said it will also be forming a partnership with several major companies in the effort to stop the viruse from spreading any further. The companies include ICANN, Neustar, VeriSign, CNNIC, Afilias, Public Internet Registry, Global Domains International, Inc., M1D Global, AOL, Symantec, F-Secure, ISC, researchers from Georgia Tech, The Shadowserver Foundation, Arbor Networks and Support Intelligence.

"By combining our expertise with the broader community, we can expand the boundaries of defense to better protect people worldwide," said George Stathakopoulos, general manager of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Group.

"The best way to defeat potential botnets like Conficker/Downadup is by the security and Domain Name System communities working together," said Greg Rattray, chief Internet security advisor at ICANN. "ICANN represents a community that's all about coordinating those kinds of efforts to keep the Internet globally secure and stable."

"Microsoft's approach combines technology innovation and effective cross- sector partnerships to help protect people from cybercriminals," Stathakopoulos said. "We hope these efforts help to contain the threat posed by Conficker, as well as hold those who illegally launch malware accountable."

Earlier this week OpenDNS and Kaspersky Lab teamed up to provide user with tools to track PCs on their networks that have potentially been hit with the worm. The tools work to to fight Conficker using the newly introduced OpenDNS Botnet Protection feature, which provides network administrators visibility into the networks they operate and sends notification if the Conficker Windows worm has successfully penetrated their network. This insight then gives network administrators the knowledge necessary to disable the worm and prevent it from causing damage.

The $250,000 reward is for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the Conficker author or authors and Microsoft said it will be available to anyone in any country, subject to local laws.

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