In a novel attempt to lure hackers away from the dark side and excite security engineers Microsoft is stumping up $200,000 to the person who comes up with the most effective way of protecting Windows from cyber attacks.
The vendor is also putting $50,000 into the pot for a second place prize as part of its BlueHat prize, which is designed to tempt those with security skills and a liking for cash to do something positive with their knowledge.
The idea of trying to get hackers who perhaps might sit on the criminal side of the fence to come across and help firms improve their defences is not new and there are annual events where white hat hackers are invited to show off their abilities, but this is the first time Microsoft has put such a large reward on the table and a prize for those that could help it improve its security.
Microsoft is giving entrants until 1 April next year to come up with a "runtime mitigation technology designed to prevent the exploitation of memory safety vulnerabilities".
Katie Moussouris, senior security strategist for the Microsoft security response center, said that the security community was full of "talented researchers" and it hoped its unconventional approach would encourage some of this talent to come up with some defensive solutions.
She added that not only would the vendor and customers welcome a decent solution but so would channel partners.