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Microsoft: £172k for the arrest of Conficker virus writer

The software behemoth has put a massive quarter of a million dollar bounty on the head of the who wrote and distributed the dangerous Conficker computer virus

Microsoft is offering a $250,000 (£172,000) reward to anyone with evidence that results in the prosecution of the coder who wrote and distributed the Conficker computer virus -- an enormously dangerous worm that infected millions of PCs worldwide, including entire hospital networks and the UK's Ministry of Defence.

Conficker was touted as having created the largest botnet of computers remotely accessible to criminals on the planet, with millions of Windows machines vulnerable to having personal information harvested from their PCs.

Now, Microsoft is opening its wallets to anyone able to lead criminal investigators to the culprit, and not for the first time -- Microsoft rewarded two individuals with a cool quarter of a million bucks in 2005, when they tipped off MS with information that led to the arrest of the coder of the destructive Sasser worm.

Apple's computers and those running Linux (as found on many of the Asus Eee PC netbooks) are immune to the worm, as it operates by exploiting a flaw in the Windows operating system. And as the maker of said OS, Microsoft is understandably keen to target criminals who abuse it.

The software maker issued a patch to fix the vulnerability in Windows, and details are available here.

So where was your little computer buddy around October last year? Was he spending even more time in his basement than usual? Grass him up for the chance to snag a few thousand quid.