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When it comes to fighting traditional crime, tipsters play an integral role in reporting suspicious activities, questionable characters and true confessions. But while few people question the existence of Crime Stopper hotlines or highway billboards, Microsoft's recent plan to offer a bounty for information leading to the arrest of malware authors brings tip lines into the digital age. Will the initiative work -- and is it, in the end, the right approach to catching digital miscreants?
Let's face it, the likelihood of the current spammer-crackers bragging about their 'victories' is as about as likely as me actually being Usama.
While I remain hopeful that Microsoft money will pry open the mouths of some people in the know, I am not holding my breath. The spammer-crackers behind Jeem, Sobig, et al, purpose-built spam facilitators are not the cliche pimply-faced kids in their parent's basement, and we need to dispel that distracting image. They are hired guns (guns quite possibly unemployed due to the dot bomb I might add).
Bragging rights are not behind the current round of viruses. It is the venal motivation: MONEY. Personal gain. Wealth.
The criminal scum behind the spamming organizations may have gone a step further to ensure the silence of their hacking counterparts. Imagine, if you will, how the Russian mob (who have been linked to many of the bank phishing expeditions in Australia and elsewhere), would treat a link back to them, for instance the hacker who wrote their malware, their website ...
I'd suggest that rather than dining in Moscow's finest restaurants, these hackers-for-hire more likely might find themselves lying at the bottom of the Moscow River.
I wonder: does the reward apply to dead hackers, too?