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[ISN] Microsoft Offers $250, 000 Bounty To ID Rustock Botnet Operators



http://www.darkreading.com/insider-threat/167801100/security/client-security/231002016/microsoft-offers-250-000-bounty-to-id-rustock-botnet-operators.html

By Kelly Jackson Higgins
Dark Reading
July 18, 2011

The effort to unmask and apprehend the criminals behind the massive Rustock botnet heated up today as Microsoft put up a $250,000 reward for new information on the botnet's operators.

Rustock -- which in March was knocked offline by federal authorities and Microsoft -- was able to send some 30 billion spam messages a day, such as for phony Pfizer prescription drugs and fake Microsoft lottery scams. FireEye, researchers at the University of Washington, Pfizer, the Dutch High Tech Crime Unit, and the Chinese CERT all assisted in the operation to take down the botnet, which had an army of some 1.6 million machines worldwide at its peak. And there are still some 700,000 machines infected with the botnet's malware, according to a recent report from Microsoft.

Richard Boscovich, senior attorney for Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit, announced today that the company had decided to supplement its civil discovery efforts with the cash reward. Last month, Microsoft published notices in two Russian newspapers in an effort to alert the Rustock operators of the civil lawsuit against them. The reward was a way to turn up the "heat as a result of the evidence we have secured during the discovery process," Boscovich said in response to an inquiry from Dark Reading. However, he did not elaborate on just what that evidence might be.

The $250,000 reward is available to anyone offering new information that results in the arrest and conviction of the Rustock operators. Microsoft will be gathering information via email, at avreward@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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