Microsoft has promised to pay a US$250,000 (AU$330,000) reward to anyone who helps authorities capture and prosecute the author of a fast-spreading computer virus that causes victims to launch an electronic attack against Microsoft's own Web site.
The large reward was the third offered so far under a US$5 million (AU$6.58 million) program Microsoft launched in November to help US authorities nab the authors of unusually damaging Internet infections aimed at victimising consumers of the company's software products.
"This worm is a criminal attack," said Brad Smith, Microsoft's senior vice president and general counsel. "Microsoft wants to help the authorities catch this criminal."
Microsoft urged anyone with information about the author of the "MyDoom.B" virus to contact the FBI, Secret Service or Interpol.
Microsoft said residents of any country are eligible for the US$250,000 reward. It said previously it will not pay rewards to anyone involved in creating the viruses.
Government officials and others have described the rewards as the highest in recent memory funded entirely by the private sector - akin to cash bounties paid in the late 1800s by Western banks to vigilantes who hunted robbers.
The previous two rewards of US$250,000 each were offered for information about those responsible for the Blaster and Sobig viruses, which spread rapidly last summer among hundreds of thousands of computers running Windows.
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