Computer Crime Research Center


Microsoft Launches Cybercrime Center to Fight Malware, Piracy

Date: March 12, 2013

Microsoft is consolidating its digital crimes and Internet piracy units into one command center.

Dow Jones Business News reports that Microsoft is merging its digital crimes and Internet piracy units into one advanced Cybercrime Center located on its Redmond, Washington campus. This will allow Microsoft to centralize all investigations relating to government and law enforcement agencies.

According to a report, a staff of 30 will reside at the new operations center, and work with 70 other Microsoft investigators spread across the globe. Together they will focus on malicious software crime, technology-related child exploitation and piracy.

A recent IDC study commissioned by Microsoft reports that pirated software and malware are arriving together on PCs distributed in rapidly growing emerging markets. This is creating an even larger pool of victims for preying criminal groups, thus pushing Microsoft into regrouping and doubling its efforts in reducing both.

The study reports that 45-percent of the pirated software that does not come pre-installed on a computer is acquired from the Internet. 78-percent of that download group stems from websites or peer-to-peer networks and includes some type of spyware. 36-percent of the download group even contains malware and adware, the study revealed.

David Finn, associate general counsel in the Microsoft Cybercrime Center, said that some of the reported malware records the victim's every keystroke. Others will secretly switch on the user's camera and microphone, giving cybercriminals "eyes and ears" in company meetings and living rooms.

The report goes on to reveal that 45-percent of the survey respondents who installed pirated software suffered system slowdowns and had to uninstall the software. 34-percent said the software wouldn't run at all, and 30-percent said their PC was overrun by pop-ups. 25-percent were infected with a virus, 24-percent saw their home network slow to a crawl, and 17-percent claimed they were forced to reformat their hard drive. Out of all the consumer respondents, 23-percent said they didn’t have any problems.

"Malicious code and non-genuine code go hand-in-hand, it's as simple as that," said David Finn, associate general counsel for Microsoft and head of its Cybercrime Center.

Microsoft claims that its Cybercrime Center provides "hi-tech investigative resources and access to intelligence on infected PCs and associated malware that product and service teams can use to combat account and platform compromise and service abuses, including denial of service attacks, ad fraud, and botnet creation."

Experts from across Microsoft’s product groups can work side by side with each other, the Digital Crimes Unit, and industry partners to develop and execute cybercrime disruption strategies, the company said.

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