Microsoft Unveils Digital Crimes Unit
November 16, 2013

The War On Cybercrime Goes Next Level: Microsoft

[ Watch the Video: Microsoft Opens Center To Battle Cybercrime ]

Bryan P. Carpender for - Your Universe Online

Picture it: Concrete walls. Rubberized floors. Dramatic lighting. Huge flat-panel televisions mounted on the walls, displaying dizzying images, algorithms, and data. Laboratories are filled with an array of high-tech gadgets. Tools and software are strewn about, along with notebooks, case files and binders belonging to an army of personnel manning sleek workstations. They confer and gather throughout the space, surrounded by modern glass, wood, and chrome design.

That may sound like the set of a C.S.I. show or a CTU command center befitting Jack Bauer on 24, or perhaps something of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but in fact, it’s a real-life place and it’s taking the battle against cybercrime to a whole new level. It’s the new Microsoft Cybercrime Center, unveiled on Thursday.

The state-of-the-art secure facility resembles a Hollywood set, but instead of a soundstage on a studio lot, the 16,800-square foot technology hub is located on Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington campus. In this case, art imitates life. Hollywood should be jealous.

Sleek and cutting edge, the new home of the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) will serve as a think tank allowing various security experts to keep tabs on global cyber threats in real time.

The center houses a team of hand-picked subject matter experts whose pre-Microsoft roles included technical analysts, developers, physicists, financial planners, engineers, government attorneys, and all levels of law enforcement officers — in other words, real life superheroes.

Since cybercrimes are not eradicated in a day (nor in a single one hour episode), this crack team can now join forces with third-party cyber security analysts and partners worldwide for as long as is necessary, thanks to a separate secure location.

By partnering with heads of industry, customers, academic types, tech gurus, attorneys, assorted law enforcement agencies, and forensic experts, the Cybercrime Center represents an evolutionary leap forward in how we combat Internet crime.

Cybercrime might sound far-fetched to some, but it’s a very real threat. Fifty percent of all online adults fell victim to cybercrime in the past year, while twenty percent of small and medium businesses have been targeted, Microsoft said. Now for the real shocker: cybercrime costs the global economy up to $500 billion annually.

“There are nearly 400 million victims of cybercrime each year. And cybercrime costs consumers $113 billion per year,” explains Microsoft’s DCU associate general counsel, David Finn. “We understand that there’s no one single country, business or organization that can tackle cyber security and cybercrime threats alone. That’s why we invest in bringing partners into our center—law enforcement agencies, partners and customers— to work right alongside us.”

The Cybercrime Center will allow them to identify, monitor, and wage war against ever-present and increasingly aggressive Internet threats ranging from malware and botnets to more egregious offenses, including piracy and intellectual property theft, or the use of technology to facilitate child exploitation.

This is the latest innovation by Microsoft, whose war on cybercrime has been waging for the past 15 years. Taking cues from other agencies, their new facility is the perfect combo of tools, technology and people. It also aims a spotlight on Microsoft, allowing their business intelligence tools to truly shine.

The DCU team has had plenty of victories; helping to shut down the Citadel botnet; exposing international piracy rings, counterfeiters, and criminals; and helping fight child pornography using its patented and powerful technology.

But despite each battle won, the war continues, as does the struggle to remain a few steps ahead of cybercriminals. And now with its Cybercrime Center, Microsoft is incredibly well-equipped and mission-ready for the fight, all the while striving to make the Internet a safer place for consumers and businesses. Cybercriminals, beware.