November 09, 2003

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Microsoft's new bounty program has all the elements of a classic movie script [1]. In Sergio Leone's 3rd spagetti western, The Man with No Name makes good money as a bounty hunter [2]. Is this another chance for him?

Microsoft's theory is that they can stick up a few wanted posters, and thus rid the world of these Ugly virus writers. Law Enforcement Officers with angel eyes will see this as a great opportunity. Microsoft has all this cash, and the LEOs need a helping hand. Surely with the right incentives, they can file the report to the CyberSecurity Czar in Washington that the tips are flooding in?

Wait for the tips, and go catch the Uglies. (And pay out the bounty.) Nothing could be simpler than that. Wait for more tips, and go catch more Uglies. And...

Wait a minute! In the film, Tuco (the Ugly) and The Man with no Name (the Good) are in cohoots! Somehow, Tuco always gets away, and the two of them split the bounty. Again and again... It's a great game.

Make no mistake, $250,000 in Confederate Gold just changed the incentive structure for your average virus writer. Up until now, writing viruses was just for fun. A challenge. Or a way to take down your hated anti-spam site. Some way for the frustrated ex-soviet nuclear scientist to stretch his talents. Or a way to poke a little fun at Microsoft.

Now, there is financial incentive. With one wanted poster, Microsoft has turned virus writing into a profitable business. All Blondie has to do is write a virus, blow away a few million user installations, and then convince Tuco to sit still for a while in a Yankee jail.

The Man with No Name may just ride again!


Posted by iang at November 9, 2003 01:41 AM | TrackBack