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Microsoft offers $250,000 reward for Downadup culprits

Co-ordinated approach to tackling worm launched by Microsoft with ICANN and security groups

Microsoft has announced an initiative with security researchers and internet organizations to tackle the the Conficker/ Downadup worm.

The initiative includes a co-ordinated global effort to disrupt the infrastructure of the worm, and a $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the worm’s creator.

The worm, which first came to light in December last year, has proven to be difficult to stop, as the worm uses a complex algorithm to connect back to hundreds of different websites, concealing any links to creators or possible payload delivery. Around 9 million PCs are believed to have been infected by Downadup so far.

George Stathakopoulos, general manager of the Trustworthy Computing Group at Microsoft commented: “As part of Microsoft’s ongoing security efforts, we constantly look for ways to use a diverse set of tools and develop methodologies to protect our customers By combining our expertise with that of the broader community we can expand the boundaries of defence to better protect people worldwide.

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

Organizations involved in the partnership 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.

Greg Rattray, chief Internet security advisor at ICANN said that a co-ordinated approach is the best way to tackle the problem.

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

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