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Dob-In A Virus Cracker: Microsoft Offers Reward

New Zealanders Offered Reward for Information on Malicious Anti-Virus Coders

New Zealand Joins a Microsoft Initiated Global Programme Offering a $US5 Million Reward Fund to Root out Malicious Code Distributors AUCKLAND - Thursday, November 6, 2003 - In a new Anti-Virus Reward Program, New Zealanders will get a chance to be rewarded for their help in curbing malicious attacks through the Internet, and to bring to justice those who illegally release damaging worms, viruses and other types of malicious code.

Microsoft New Zealand today announced the creation of the Anti-Virus Reward Program, initially funded with $US5 million to help law enforcement agencies identify malicious coders. 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.

Microsoft New Zealand Managing Director Ross Peat said that with New Zealanders being prolific Internet users it was crucial that everyone worked together to stop the misuse of the Internet.

"Every time malicious worms and viruses are released, the viable use of the Internet is threatened. It not only breaks down the trust in technology but potentially prevents Kiwis from effectively using the web to do business, communicate with family and friends or as an educational tool. Worm and virus attacks are criminal actions that can subject people to offensive content, cause loss of vital information for computer users or can compromise their security or privacy," says Peat.

"This new programme will help New Zealand, and we hope it will put a stop to those cyber criminals who damage the positive experience of the Internet for computer users everywhere."

As part of the Reward Program, Microsoft announced the first reward in the amount of a quarter-million US dollars 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-US dollar reward for information that results in the arrest and conviction of those responsible for 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.

Background:

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 these individuals."

"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 and Sobig viruses."

"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," Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said 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 worm, or any other worms or viruses, should contact the following international law enforcement agencies:

* International/Interpol: Consult www.interpol.int.

* The Internet Fraud Complaint Center at http://www.ifccfbi.gov/

* By calling a local FBI or Secret Service field office

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.

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