Microsoft today announced that it is offering up to a quarter million dollars for new information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the Rustock botnet's operators. This is the first time the software giant has offered a reward like this since 2009, with Conficker.

"Although Microsoft's primary goal in taking down Rustock was to disrupt and stop the threat posed by the botnet, an effort that has been extremely successful, Microsoft also believes the operators of the Rustock botnet should be held accountable for their actions and that is part of the reason why the company is offering a reward for information in this case," a Microsoft spokesperson told me via email.

For more information on the reward and the very latest news on the investigation, please read Richard Boscovich's post on the Official Microsoft Blog, part of which is excerpted below:

Last month, I shared with you that the Rustock botnet has remained inactive since Microsoft and its partners took it offline on March 16th.

Today, we take our pursuit a step further. After publishing notices in two Russian newspapers last month to notify the Rustock operators of the civil lawsuit, we decided to augment our civil discovery efforts to identify those responsible for controlling the notorious Rustock botnet by issuing a monetary reward in the amount of $250,000 for new information that results in the identification, arrest and criminal conviction of such individual(s).

This reward offer stems from Microsoft’s recognition that the Rustock botnet is responsible for a number of criminal activities and serves to underscore our commitment to tracking down those behind it. 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.