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Microsoft paying out $250k for info on Rustock botnet operators

botnetThough the infamous Rustock botnet has been silent for quite some time now, Microsoft is going for the botnet’s throat and hoping that you can help out. The company is offering a monetary award for any information that leads to the identification, arrest and criminal conviction of those responsible for controlling this botnet. The maximum reward amount: $250,000 USD.

At the height of its power the monstrous Rustock botnet had enslaved a sizable number of computers around the world as part of its spam force and had the capacity to send out 30 billion spam emails daily. Microsoft also points out that the botnet was involved in other crimes including counterfeit versions of pharmaceuticals and violating trademarks.

Rustock has stayed inactive since March 16 when Microsoft rallied its industry partners and law enforcement in a strike against the the botnet called “operation b107”. The company and partners filed suit against the botnet’s operators which allowed U.S. law enforcement to seize command-and-control centers within the country. MS says that the Rustock infection base has been halved in the four months since the takedown, but there are still many thousands of infected computers that need to be scrubbed of the malware.

After the March attack, the tech corporation started in after the operators by taking out quarter-page 30-day ads in newspapers from Moscow and St. Petersburg in order to notify the Rustock operators of the civil lawsuit. The IP addresses of the operators supposedly came out of Russia.

According to Richard Boscovich, a Senior Attorney in Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit, Microsoft is now resorting to this $250,000 reward because they want to augment their civil discovery efforts. The attorney says “Microsoft has already been gathering strong evidence in our ongoing investigation and this reward aims to take that effort a step further.”

Anyone that has information and wants to make a little side cash should email the tech giant directly at avreward@microsoft.com.

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