Atualizado às: 16 fevereiro, 2009 - Published 19:33 GMT
Microsoft oferece recompensa por captura de criador de vírus
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Microsoft is offering a reward of $250,000 to help bring the creator of a nasty computer worm to justice. The computer code, known as Conficker or Downadup, has spread to millions of computers worldwide threatening to crash systems. Maggie Shiels reports:

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Microsoft says people who write this malware have to be held accountable and know the company will not let this kind of activity go unchecked. George Stathakapulous, the general manager of its trustworthy computing group, says "our message is very clear - whoever wrote this caused significant pain to our customers and we are sending a message that we will do everything we can to help with your arrest".

Since the malicious program was discovered in October 2008, it's estimated that as many as 12 million computers have been affected globally. The Conficker worm is a self-replicating program that takes advantage of networks or computers that have not kept up to date with Windows security patches. It can infect machines from the internet or by hiding on USB memory sticks, carrying data from one computer to another. The worm slithers through networks by guessing usernames and passwords.

Security specialists recommend hardening passwords by mixing in numbers, punctuation marks and upper case letters.

Maggie Shiels, BBC News, Silicon Valley

Escute as palavras

a computer virus, i.e. a program that has been designed to stop affected computers working properly

to be held accountable
here, to take responsibility and be punished

will not let this kind of activity go unchecked
here, will make sure that creators of computer viruses are found, monitored and, if necessary, stopped and punished

caused significant pain to
here, made computers stop working properly and therefore seriously affected (the customers)

intended to harm or upset

takes advantage of
makes use of, affects

security patches
programs specially created by computer companies to protect their product from viruses

slithers through
easily moves around/crosses

here, making more difficult to guess

that can make copies of itself


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