06 November 2003
Microsoft Works with U.S. Law Enforcement to Catch Cybercriminals
Software corporation offers rewards for information
on malicious code incidents
Microsoft Corporation and U.S. law enforcement agencies are joining
forces to step up the international pursuit of those responsible
for the release of malicious computer code on the Internet. Microsoft
is funding a $5 million reward program to support U.S. and international
law enforcement in solving these episodes of cybercrime. The company
November 5 announced that it is offering $250,000 rewards for information
leading to the arrest and conviction of those who released the
MSBlast.A computer worm and the SoBig virus earlier this year.
Malicious codes exploit vulnerabilities in Microsoft software
by entering computers loaded with the software and performing operations
not authorized by the computer owner. Experts estimate that corporations
with computer systems infected by MSBlast.A starting in August
2003 spent more than $500 million to eliminate it, regain control
of their equipment and restore lost data. Damages attributed to
SoBig, which first appeared in January 2003, may approach $1,000
million, according to the CERT/Coordination Center, a federally
supported agency monitoring computer security incidents.
"These are not just Internet crimes, cybercrimes or virtual crimes," said
Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel at Microsoft
in a news release issued jointly by the Microsoft and the U.S.
Secret Service. "These are real crimes that hurt a lot of people.
Those who release viruses on the Internet are the saboteurs of
cyberspace, and Microsoft wants to help the authorities catch them,"
Representatives of the U.S. Secret Service, the Federal Bureau
of Investigation and Interpol joined Microsoft representatives
in the November 5 Washington news conference where the reward program
was announced. Acting Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI's Cyber
Division Keith Lourdeau emphasized the seriousness of the crimes,
explaining that his agency is engaged in a partnership with industry
to track down those who are releasing Blaster and other malicious
"To date, subjects have been charged and arrested in connection
with the release of three of the six Blaster variants. While this
is a sign of progress, the FBI will continue in its pursuit of
the original authors of these worms," said Lourdeau in a separate
Further information about Microsoft's reward program is available
at HYPERLINK "http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2003/nov03/11-05AntiVirusQA.asp"
Further information about viruses and malicious codes is available
at HYPERLINK "http://www.cert.org/other_sources/viruses.html"
Following is the text of the Microsoft-Secret Service announcement:
Nov. 5, 2003
Microsoft Announces Anti-Virus Reward Program
Microsoft Teams With Law Enforcement to Root Out Malicious Code
Distributors With $5 Million Reward Fund as a Part of Broader Security
WASHINGTON -- Nov. 5, 2003 -- Microsoft Corp. today announced
the creation of the Anti-Virus Reward Program, initially funded
with $5 million (U.S.), to help law enforcement agencies identify
and bring to justice those who illegally release damaging worms,
viruses and other types of malicious code on the Internet. Microsoft
will provide the monetary rewards for information resulting in
the arrest and conviction of those responsible for launching malicious
viruses and worms on the Internet. Residents of any country are
eligible for the reward, according to the laws of that country,
because Internet viruses affect the Internet community worldwide.
As part of the Reward Program, Microsoft announced the first reward
in the amount of a quarter-million dollars (U.S.) for information
leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for unleashing
the MSBlast.A worm. Although two arrests were made in connection
with the B and C variants of the MSBlast worm, those responsible
for releasing the original worm this summer remain at large. The
worm was designed to attack Microsoft's www.windowsupdate.com Web
site, which provides fixes for vulnerabilities and helps protect
users against malicious attacks. Microsoft offered a second quarter-million-dollar
reward for information that results in the arrest and conviction
of those responsible for unleashing the Sobig virus. This virus,
the first variant of which was detected Jan. 10, 2003, attacked
individual machines and e-mailed itself to each e-mail address
in the computer's contact list. The Sobig.B and Sobig.C variants
of the virus made messages appear as if they had come from official
Microsoft e-mail addresses. No arrests have been made in connection
with the Sobig virus.
"Malicious worms and viruses are criminal attacks on everyone
who uses the Internet," said Brad Smith, senior vice president
and general counsel at Microsoft. "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. 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, and Microsoft wants to help the authorities catch them."
Partnership Program With Law Enforcement
Representatives of three law enforcement agencies, the Federal
Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Secret Service and Interpol,
today joined Microsoft at the National Press Club news conference,
where the company provided details of the reward program.
"The malicious distribution of worms and viruses, such as MSBlast
and Sobig, are far from victimless crimes," said Keith Lourdeau,
Acting Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI Cyber Division. "Such
attacks on the Internet cost businesses worldwide millions -- some
estimates claim billions -- of dollars and wreak havoc on individuals
by ruining files, hard drives and other critical data. We intend
to vigorously pursue the perpetrators of these crimes, and we hope
to see additional industry-government collaboration to identify
"Not only are we concerned with apprehending those individuals
who commit computer crimes but also in limiting the damage done
by these criminals to private industry and the public," said Bruce
Townsend, deputy assistant director of investigations at the Secret
Service. "By working together, the public, the private sector and
law enforcement can combine their resources to effectively combat
computer-based crimes like the MSBlast.A worm and Sobig virus."
"Interpol is particularly interested in fighting the malicious
spreading of viruses because this represents truly borderless crime
that requires a truly global response, a global collaboration between
police and private industry," said Interpol Secretary General Ronald
K. Noble, at the organization's headquarters in Lyon. "This Microsoft
reward program is an opportunity to continue building effective
relationships between the world's police and the private sector
in order to prevent and prosecute cybercrime."
Individuals with information about the MSBlast.A worm or the Sobig
virus, or any other worms or viruses, should contact the following
international law enforcement agencies:
-- International/Interpol: via the Interpol National Central Bureau
in any of Interpol's 181 member countries or at http://www.interpol.int/
-- FBI or Secret Service: via any local field office
-- The Internet Fraud Complaint Center: at http://www.ifccfbi.gov/ Microsoft has made security a top priority and is committed to
developing the most secure software possible and making it easier
for customers to protect themselves against attacks launched by
malicious law breakers. Over the past year, the company delayed
several product development projects to provide intensive training
for more than 18,000 developers on how to write more secure code.
The company has taken numerous steps to alert users to possible
vulnerabilities and steps they can take to protect themselves,
including the recent "Protect Your PC" campaign. This information
is available at http://www.microsoft.com/protect/. While working
hard to improve the security of its software, Microsoft also cooperates
with international, federal and state law enforcement to help bring
the perpetrators of these attacks to justice.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader
in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and
business computing. The company offers a wide range of products
and services designed to empower people through great software
-- any time, any place and on any device.