Microsoft has kicked off an initiative to file more than 100 legal cases against organisations running phishing scams from Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
The first 53 cases will be filed within the next two weeks against individuals from Turkey, France, Spain, Morocco, the UK, Germany, Austria, Egypt and Sweden.
The suspects were tracked down as part of US investigations into phishing attacks, and Microsoft has assisted local authorities in identifying perpetrators.
The legal offensive is part of Microsoft's expanded Global Phishing Enforcement Initiative to eradicate phishing attacks through education, partnerships and prosecution.
"It is critical that we start developing global enforcement programmes to address phishing and all cyber-crime issues," said Tim Cranton, a Microsoft senior attorney and director of the Internet Safety Enforcement Programme.
Phishing websites try to lure consumers into giving up confidential information such as credit card numbers or user names and passwords. They most commonly target US bank customers and eBay users.
But attacks are starting to become more sophisticated, and have been attempting to obtain log-in names and passwords for corporate networks.
But it is often hard to determine the origin of the attacks because they are usually launched from hacked computers that are part of botnets controlled by the phishing gang.
Paul Judge, chief technology officer at CipherTrust, applauded Microsoft's initiative.
"Without the enforcement, people feel that there is no downside to participating in this type of activity. It is almost a free for all, and they can hide behind the anonymity of the technology," he told vnunet.com.
"But to see that there is a group that will invest the time and resources to track them down and bring them to court will force several of them to reconsider the risk and reward of this type of activity.
"Hopefully they will walk the other way and think of more useful things to do with their time."
Judge argued that legal action against spammers has helped to cut spam, and that the same will happen with phishing.
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