Microsoft has declared war on cybercrime by opening a new specialist Cybercrime Center on its Redmond campus dedicated solely to detecting and countering blackhat hackers.
The Cybercrime Center will offer its legal and technical expertise to law enforcement agencies such as Interpol. It will specifically focus on tackling crimes associated with malware, botnets, intellectual property theft and technology-facilitated child exploitation.
The centre will also be open to security experts from third-party partners and universities. Microsoft promised it will have advanced malware and threat-detection technologies that will let experts and law enforcement identify developing cyber threats in real time.
These include SitePrint, PhotoDNA and cyber-forensics services. SitePrint is a technology designed to track and map online organised crime networks, PhotoDNA is an anti-child-pornography technology designed to root out and remove illicit images of minors and cyber forensics detects global cybercrime such as online fraud and identity theft scams. The centre will also share cyber threat intelligence from Microsoft's botnet takedown operations.
Associate general counsel of the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit, David Finn, said the centre is a key step in the company's ongoing bid to keep its customers safe from blackhat hackers.
"The Microsoft Cybercrime Center is where our experts come together with customers and partners to focus on one thing: keeping people safe online," said Finn. "By combining sophisticated tools and technology with the right skills and new perspectives, we can make the internet safer for everyone."
The centre's opening comes during a wider push by governments to increase collaboration between the public and private sector when combating cybercrime. The UK government's Cyber Security Strategy has seen the creation of several information-sharing initiatives similar to the Microsoft Cybercrime Center. This included the launch of the Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CISP) earlier in the year.
Microsoft has been a constant supporter of the strategy and its Trustworthy Computing (TwC) arm has participated in several botnet-takedown operations. Most recently TwC partnered with the FBI to take down the Citadel botnet.
The opening of the Microsoft Cybercrime Center has been welcomed by several law enforcement agencies. Interpol executive director Noboru Nakatani said the centre will be an invaluable tool for agencies combating cybercrime and called for other companies to follow Microsoft's example.
"In the fight against cybercrime the public sector significantly benefits from private sector expertise, such as provided by Microsoft," said Nakatani. "The security community needs to build on its co-ordinated responses to keep pace with today's cyber criminals. The Microsoft Cybercrime Center will be an important hub in accomplishing that task more effectively and proactively."
Symantec pledged to create a centralised information-sharing big data hub to help customers spot and pre-empt custom-built malware.
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