April 2, 2012
As law enforcement authorities around the world struggle to find the necessary support, both financial and human, to combat the problem effectively, the criminals involved continue to innovate.
Cybercriminals are highly creative, and they continue to find new ways to circumvent defensive measures and elude the police.
In this environment, police departments around the world welcome all available assistance, and they now have an important and very well-funded ally, Microsoft.
Microsoft’s strong interest in fighting cybercrime is understandable.
Left unchecked, computer crimes threaten Microsoft’s business.
If computer users do not have full confidence in the security of their computer and communications networks, they will not make widespread use of those systems, and they will spend less money on computer equipment.
Microsoft and all other companies involved in the information and communications technology sector have every incentive to help law enforcement authorities work to make cyberspace a safer community.
Less cybercrime translates into more confident computer users, which in turn results in more business for Microsoft and the other information technology companies.
Microsoft plays its role in fighting cybercrime by actively investigating and litigating suspected instances of computer crime.
It is particularly interested in building legal cases against the operators of software “botnets” that illegally harvest personal financial information off computer networks.
Through its anti-computer crime unit, Microsoft files civil lawsuits against suspected cybercriminals, and through those actions it obtains court orders to seize computers alleged to be involved in the illegal activity, as evidence.
Microsoft is frequently invited to send its technical experts and lawyers with the police as they execute the search warrants and seize the targeted computers.
Microsoft’s technical experts are also available to provide expertise in support of the computer forensics activities of law enforcement authorities as they conduct their investigations and analyze the evidence seized.
Through its increasingly active role investigating and litigating computer crimes, Microsoft makes an important contribution to current efforts to combat cybercrime.
The threat to commerce posed by computer crime remains, however, substantial and its scope continues to expand, despite Microsoft’s major investment.
There is also some basis for concern that the role of any commercial company in police initiatives, Microsoft included, should be carefully controlled and limited, as commercial enterprises operate under a different set of priorities and authorizations than do government law enforcement groups.
For the present, however, Microsoft’s interest in addressing the problem of computer crime is generally welcomed by police and beneficial for the public.