Microsoft has announced a new strategy to combat criminal hackers by opening up a new Cybercrime Center. This building will house security engineers, digital forensic experts and trained lawyers. The company is attempting to play catch up with hackers who have innovated alongside technology to remain one step ahead of law enforcement.
Microsoft will be utilising tactics that have worked best in the past, including massive data gathering and analysis, gumshoe detective work, high-level diplomacy and creative lawyering. While many will quickly argue that Microsoft has at times had serious security vulnerabilities in its own software, the company has led the fight against organised online crime. Let's also not ignore the company's bounty programs.
It's all top-security stuff. There's a lab dedicated to dissecting malicious software samples, which is only accessible with fingerprint authorisation. Microsoft also houses rows of empty offices ready to cater to authorities, customers or allies who join and participate on specific missions.
Steve Santorelli, a former Microsoft investigator and Scotland Yard cybercrime detective, states "at least half of the major, significant takedowns have been driven by Microsoft." External security experts have praised Microsoft for bringing together multiple specialist sectors under one roof. At the Microsoft Cybercrime Center, you'll also find a team working on securing its own products - both internal and external developments under one roof.
Around 80 of the crime unit's 100 members of staff are working on the piracy of Microsoft products, with fewer devoted solely to deconstructing the methods of criminals attacking customers and halting them when possible. An example mission would be undercover Microsoft employees purchasing computers in China, to then find out each machine had pirated versions of the Windows OS and traces of malicious software.
Microsoft's findings are taken through legal channels that may then result in armed raids on locations where servers are housed. But what about peer-to-peer botnets? Microsoft is now working on new means to take down the more sophisticated networks. It's an interesting look at the often bashed software giant to see just how Microsoft is working on not only protecting its own assets, but also society.