Microsoft will offer US$250,000 (AU$236,000) for information that leads to the identification, arrest and criminal convictions of the leaders of the Rustock botnet.
The bounty offer comes after recent attempts to reach the Rustock’s leaders failed to produce results. Microsoft recently placed quarter page ads in two Russian newspapers.
“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,” explained Richard Boscovich, senior attorney at Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit.
Microsoft encouraged anyone with information about the Rustock operators’ whereabouts to email it at email@example.com.
“Residents of any country are eligible for the reward pursuant to the laws of that country, because the Rustock botnet affected the Internet community worldwide,” said Boscovich.
Microsoft will review and evaluate the legitimacy of leads submitted, and has reserved the right to provide such leads to United States law enforcement, it stated on www.noticeofpleadings.com
Although it has failed to locate the botnet operators, Microsoft claimed victory earlier this month after it heralded that Rustock, once the world's largest spam network, remained inactive. Millions of PCs remained infected with the virus, but Rustock's operators had failed to regain control of its command and control centre.
In April Microsoft named its prime suspects as Vladimir Alexandrovich Shergin and a “Cosma2k”, who was associated with the names Dmitri A. Sergeev, Artem Sergeev and Sergey Vladimirovich Sergeev.
Dmitri A. Sergeev apparently had aspirations of working for Google, according to security blogger Brian Krebs, who posted a photo of Sergeev.