Microsoft Announces $250,000 Reward for Info on Rustock Ring
Microsoft today announced a cash reward of $250,000 to anyone providing information that leads to the criminal conviction of the Rustock botnet perpetrators. according to a blog post.
Rustock was once considered the largest botnet ring operating worldwide and responsible for more than 1.5 billion spam e-mails a day. However, the number of systems infected with the Rustock malware has steadily declined since a joint operation by Microsoft and multiple law enforcement agencies in March seized U.S.-based command-and-control servers.
Microsoft has since identified infected systems and worked to help users remove malware associated with the botnet. It released a statement earlier in the month saying that the infection rate has been cut in half, but that hundreds of thousands of compromised systems still exist.
The cash reward is the next step Microsoft is taking to find those responsible for the spam network, according to Richard Boscovich, senior attorney for the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit.
"This reward offer stems from Microsoft’s recognition that the Rustock botnet is responsible for a number of criminal activities and serves to underscore our commitment to tracking down those behind it," wrote Boscovich in the blog post. "While the primary goal for our legal and technical operation has been to stop and disrupt the threat that Rustock has posed for everyone affected by it, we also believe the Rustock bot-herders should be held accountable for their actions."
He added that the company has already gained information to help find the suspects, who are thought to live in Russia. Microsoft earlier placed full-page ads in a number of Russian newspapers requesting the public's help in finding the suspects.
According to the reward details, a maximum amount of $250,000 can be awarded. More details can be found here (PDF).