Last updated at 16:05 GMT, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Microsoft offers reward for bug creator

usb cable

Summary

13 February 2009

Microsoft is offering a reward of $250,000 to help bring the creator of a computer worm to justice.

The worm, known as Conficker or Downadup, has spread to millions of computers worldwide.

Reporter:
Maggie Shiels

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Microsoft says people who write this malware have to be held accountable and know the company will not let this kind of activity go unchecked.

George Stathakapulous, the general manager of its trustworthy computing group, says "our message is very clear - whoever wrote this caused significant pain to our customers and we are sending a message that we will do everything we can to help with your arrest".


Since the malicious program was discovered in October 2008, it's estimated that as many as 12 million computers have been affected globally.

The Conficker worm is a self-replicating program that takes advantage of networks or computers that have not kept up to date with Windows security patches.

It can infect machines from the internet or by hiding on USB memory sticks, carrying data from one computer to another. The worm slithers through networks by guessing usernames and passwords.

Security specialists recommend hardening passwords by mixing in numbers, punctuation marks and upper case letters.

Maggie Shiels, BBC News, Silicon Valley

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Vocabulary

malware
a computer virus, i.e. a program that has been designed to stop affected computers working properly
to be held accountable
here, to take responsibility and be punished
will not let this kind of activity go unchecked
here, will make sure that creators of computer viruses are found, monitored and, if necessary, stopped and punished
caused significant pain to
here, made computers stop working properly and therefore seriously affected (the customers)
malicious
intended to harm or upset
takes advantage of
makes use of, affects
takes advantage of
makes use of, affects
security patches
programs specially created by computer companies to protect their product from viruses
slithers through
easily moves around/crosses
hardening
here, making more difficult to guess
self-replicating
that can make copies of itself

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