Microsoft turns the table on hackers offering $250,000 reward for researchers who create defences to protect Windows users against cyber-attacksBosses at Microsoft are hoping to turn poachers into gamekeepers by offering computer hackers $250,000 to develop new security defences for their software.The firm's BlueHat Prize, which is open to programmers everywhere, will pay $200,000 to the person who comes up with what they judge to be the best new way of preventing cyber-attacks.
Two runners up will split a $50,000 second prize and each receive a MSDN Universal subscription, allowing them to develop their own software for the company, worth $10,000.
Microsoft's BlueHat prize will offer $200,000 to the programmer who comes up with the best new security solution for their software In IT terminology, the prizes are being offered for the best 'novel runtime mitigation technology designed to prevent the exploitation of memory safety vulnerabilities.'
Katie Moussouris, senior security strategist for the Microsoft Security Response Center said: 'This is the first and largest incentive prize ever offered by Microsoft, and possibly ever in the industry.
'We're looking to make life more costly for criminals. The value of the prize will go beyond dollars, however.
'We're looking to inspire researchers from industry, academia and even hobbyists."
'Microsoft wants to encourage more security experts to think about ways to reduce threats to computing devices.
'We’re looking to collaborate with others to build solutions to tough industry problems.
'We believe the BlueHat Prize will encourage the world’s most talented researchers and academics to tackle key security challenges and offer them a chance to impact the world.'
Cyber-attack: Hackers are constantly looking for new ways to steal personal information from computer users Microsoft's Windows operating system, is the most widely used in the world, but its popularity has meant it has become the prime target for computer hackers who develop malicious programmes to steal users' personal information.
A 2004 study conducted by marketing communications firm Avantgarde found that an unprotected Windows XP system lasted just four minutes on the Internet before it was compromised.
The firm has made some improvements with its Vista and Windows 7 operating systems but users are still advised to use third-party anti-virus programmes to guard against attacks and even then systems can still be vulnerable.
Boffins will have until April 1, 2012, to develop their ideas when a panel of Microsoft security engineers will judge submissions.
Matt Thomlinson, general manager of Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Group, wote on the website The Register: 'This is the first and largest incentive prize ever offered by Microsoft, and possibly the industry, for defensive computer security technology.
'In the age of increased risk of attacks on personal, corporate and government computer systems, Microsoft recognizes the need to encourage and nurture innovation in the area of exploit mitigations.