Microsoft has teamed with Symantec, AOL and other industry leaders to battle the Conficker worm.
Working with security researchers, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and operators within the domain name system, Microsoft has coordinated a response designed to disable domains targeted by Conficker. Microsoft also announced a $250,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for pushing Conficker throughout the Internet.
"As part of Microsoft's ongoing security efforts, we constantly look for ways to use a diverse set of tools and develop methodologies to protect our customers," said George Stathakopoulos, general manager of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Group, in a statement. "By combining our expertise with the broader community we can expand the boundaries of defense to better protect people worldwide."
The worm, also known as Downadup, first appeared on the scene late last year targeting a flaw in Microsoft's Server service. However, the most prolific variant, identified by Microsoft as Win32/Conficker.B, spreads not only through the Windows flaw but also via network shares by logging into machines that use weak passwords. It also spreads through removable media.
Having multiple attack vectors has paid off for the worm, as security vendors reported last month it had infected as many as nine million Windows PCs.
New tactics and a greater level of industry coordination are required to fight evolving cyber-threats, a Microsoft spokesman said. The aim here is to unify the multiple initiatives that have been launched within the security industry and academia to implement a community-based defense against Conficker, the spokesman added.
Along with Microsoft, organizations involved in this collaborative effort include: ICANN, VeriSign, Afilias, Public Internet Registry, AOL, Symantec, F-Secure, Arbor Networks, and several others.
"Symantec continuously strives to find innovative ways to protect customers from threats, including working with industry partners to safeguard users from financial and personal information loss," said Vincent Weafer, vice president of Symantec Security Response, in a statement. "As attackers are becoming increasingly competitive in the distribution of their attacks and are leveraging widespread numbers of compromised systems, it is critical for leading industry leaders to combine their resources to more quickly and effectively combat widespread threats such as Downadup (Conficker)."
Microsoft has opened up the award to residents of any country according to each nation's respective laws. Individuals with information about the Conficker worm should contact their international law enforcement agencies, a Microsoft spokesman said.