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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Microsoft Establishes Cybercrime Center to Combat Piracy, Malware

(MSFT) is consolidating its digital crimes and software piracy teams into a single Cybercrime Center in an effort to confront new ploys by Web criminals with bolder initiatives of its own. Now research shows counterfeit software and malware are arriving together on personal computers in emerging markets world-wide, creating a larger pool of victims for criminal enterprises and a more pressing need to address the threat. A study to be released Wednesday by market researchers IDC concludes that about one-third of the software installed on PCs world-wide in 2011 was counterfeit and at least 20% of Microsoft Office software installed by businesses was counterfeit as well.

A corrupted PC in Latvia or Thailand may not appear to be a threat, but once compromised it can be networked to infiltrate PCs anywhere and deploy threats such as malware that tracks keystrokes to gather passwords and account information.

“Malicious code and nongenuine code go hand-in-hand, it’s as simple as that,” said David Finn, associate general counsel for Microsoft and head of its Cybercrime Center, who has spent the past 13 years leading piracy investigations for Microsoft from his Paris office.

Software counterfeiters have graduated from gangs selling disks of pirated software on street corners to sophisticated enterprises that distribute pirate code online and on new PCs—even name-brand PCs.  In an investigation in China last year, researchers purchased 169 branded PCs through traditional Chinese IT malls, and all contained counterfeit versions of Windows pre-installed and 91% contained malware.  From a base in Eastern Europe, CD Cheap spammed the world selling pirate versions of Windows and at its peak was generating about $3.9 million a month, said Peter Anaman, a senior investigator for Microsoft.

What investigators have done is develop a range of techniques and tools to stymie online thieves and, in some cases, “we’ve reached the point where we’ve taken the profit out of it,” he said.


Posted on 03/06