Redmond has historically been tough on illegal online activity, but now Microsoft is kicking it up a notch with its new Cybercrime Center. On Thursday, the company vowed to get a little tougher on Internet crime.
According to the company’s research, 50 percent of online adults were cybercrime victims last year. What’s more, cybercrime costs the global economy up to $500 billion annually. And it’s not all mega corporations. Microsoft figures 20 percent of small and medium-size businesses have been targeted.
“There are nearly 400 million victims of cybercrime each year. And cybercrime costs consumers $113 billion per year,” said David Finn, associate general council for Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit. “We understand that there’s no one single country, business or organization that can tackle cybersecurity and cybercrime threats alone. That’s why we invest in bringing partners into our center -- law enforcement agencies, partners and customers -- into this center to work right alongside us.”
Former Feds on Redmond’s Side
Microsoft described the Cybercrime Center as a CSI kind of a place, which may bring up images of popular law enforcement TV shows in the minds of some. The center is equipped for a high-tech, crime-fighting mission and home to labs, offices, ultra-secure evidence rooms as well as software and tools.
“It’s like a functional movie set,” said Finn, who once served as a federal prosecutor in New York City. “But there is real-life cybercrime going on, and these are real-life labs to fight it in a cutting-edge way. This is not a TV show -- we have important cases we’re working on right now, right on the other side of the window.”
Like Finn, the staff at the Cybercrime Center was handpicked and includes federal prosecutors, police officers, technical analysts, bankers, engineers and physicists. According to Microsoft, their investigations have brought them to the doorsteps of the Russian mafia and a brutally violent Mexican narcotics cartel, as well as all manner of drug dealers, thieves, counterfeiters, pirates and child exploiters from all over the world.
What Sparked the Lab?
We caught up with Chester Wisniewski, a senior security advisor at Sophos, to get his take on the news. He applauded the company’s work on the Cybercrime Center.
“Microsoft's efforts to hamper the work of cybercriminals is always a welcome sight,” he told us. “Anytime you can welcome someone with the resources of a Microsoft to fight on your side in the battle against online crime, it is a good thing.”
Microsoft’s efforts to fight cybercrime have evolved and intertwined over the last 15 years, and teams from across the company have increasingly found overlap in their work.
“We started to recognize that our work could really benefit from creating a common workspace -- a home not only where teams from across Microsoft could work closely together, but a place where partners and people from law enforcement could come as well,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel and executive vice president of Legal and Corporate Affairs.
Smith was also inspired by a visit to South Korea’s national cybercrime headquarters: “I saw what they were doing in Seoul and realized that we have people with broader experience, but we weren’t providing our people with those kind of tools.”
When he came home, he worked to bring change. Part of that change is the Cybercrime Center.
Posted: 2013-11-16 @ 2:40am PT
I am sure that private companies can do damage to the Russian mafia, since the FBI is a total failure to curb organized crime.