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Microsoft's new Cybercrime Center battles malware in CSI-style

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Microsoft cybercrime center
Microsoft cybercrime center

Microsoft is unveiling a new Cybercrime Center that’s designed to battle malware, botnets, and other internet crime. The new futuristic facility has been built at the company’s Redmond headquarters as an area to combine Microsoft’s researchers, security experts, and lawyers into a central location. Microsoft has been tackling cybercrime for years, including efforts to take down various botnets, but the new secured facility takes things a step further.

Microsoft is using its own technologies, including the PhotoDNA anti-child-pornography technology adopted by Twitter and Facebook, to tackle growing problems with cybercrime. While the facility will house separate labs for Microsoft employees to work in, it also includes a secure and separate location for third-party partners. Cybersecurity experts are free to use the facility "for an indefinite period of time," to work with Microsoft on any investigations.

It's like a TV show, but for serious work

Microsoft’s main cybercrime center will house attorneys, investigators, technical experts, and forensic analysts in a modern environment that’s more akin to a CSI set than a corporate workplace. "It’s like a functional movie set," says Finn, a former federal prosecutor in New York City who now leads the Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit. "But there is real-life cybercrime going on…this is not a TV show – we have important cases we’re working on right now."

Some of the work may involve botnets harvesting infected computers to steal millions of dollars, but there’s also some more unique challenges Microsoft has to assist with. In a closer look at the facility, Microsoft details one particular case where its forensics laboratory assisted a hardware manufacturer in identifying 3,600 stolen laptops. Each laptop had a unique activation code, allowing a Microsoft worker to create a map of where each laptop had come online. Microsoft hopes the new facility will play an important role in tackling cybercrime for its own efforts and others worldwide.