When I started seeing stories all over the web about Microsoft's offer of a $250,000 bounty
for the authors of the Conficker virus, I thought that the plan sounded awfully familiar. Going through the Techdirt archives, I turned up some stories on bounties for phishers
, then found a post from 2003 talking about how the company had set aside $5 million
for bounties on people who wrote viruses and worms. While it's not clear if Microsoft has actually paid out any of that cash, it is pretty clear that the bounty plan hasn't done much to make Windows any more secure since it was announced. And neither will this latest bounty. Like the previous plan, it's gotten Microsoft tons of press that makes the company look tough
-- but it doesn't solve the underlying security problems of the Windows platform. Catching the people who wrote the Conficker worm won't undo any of the problems they've exposed, and it certainly won't make Windows users any more secure.