Need extra cash? If you know the author of the Conficker/Downadup worm you can receive $250K. Not a bad day for being a rat.

Microsoft, Symantec and other security industry and academic leaders will be cracking down on the Conficker/Downadup worm by putting up a $250,000 bounty and disabling domains that enable the spread of the botnet.

In an effort to impede the spread of the Conficker malware, Microsoft is forming a coalition composed of security industry researchers and academia to tackle the problem.

And to spur the effort, the newly formed coalition is offering a $250,000 bounty for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of malware authors responsible for launching the Conficker worm over the Web. Microsoft researchers say that the reward serves as a counteracting force for what the security industry considers a criminal attack. Residents of any country are eligible for the reward, according to their national laws, due to the fact that the Conficker worm affects businesses and individuals on a global scale.

Security experts say that as worms like Conficker evolve in sophistication, a greater level of industry coordination, as well as new technologies, will be required in order to mitigate the threats and keep users safe.

“Botnets themselves have been getting more and more sophisticated. Conficker is no different,” said Vincent Weafer, vice president of Symantec Security Response. “It was too big a problem for any single group or organization.”

One new approach, Weafer said, will be to nip the problem in the bud by collaborating with domain registrars to ensure that they’re not leveraged by botnet creators.

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