Tuesday, November 19, 2013

#Microsoft is on Board - #cybercrime

On Thursday, Microsoft Corp. announced that it had opened the doors of its Microsoft Cybercrime Center, something that I can describe as a center of excellence, specifically developed to further the global fight against cybercrime. The Center was opened in Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash campus in the US.  This Cybercrime Center is set to combine Microsoft’s technical and legal expertise as well as a blend of technology across industry expertise and other cutting-edge tools. This is actually the turning point that unveils the new era of effectively fighting crime on the internet.

According to statistics from ESET, cybercrime cases increase steadily each year with those targeting financial institutions becoming more complex, taking a toll on millions of consumers around the globe. In Africa, Nigeria is a great example of what cybercrime has to offer. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) reported that banks in the country had lost approximately 20 million Naira via internet fraud.

The Cybercrime Center will combat online crime including those associated with malware, Trojan, botnets, intellectual property theft and technology facilitated child exploitation. Internet security and cybercrime experts will congregate at the center in a bid to focus on the most important thing in today’s world, “online safety”. According to David Finn, associate general counsel of the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit, combining sophisticated high-end tools and technology alongside appropriate skills and new perspectives, experts can make the internet world safer for all.

The secured facility houses groundbreaking Microsoft technologies that allow the team to visualize and identify global cyberthreats that develop in real time. This includes SitePrint, which allows the mapping of online organized crime networks. PhotoDNA on the other hand is a leading anti-child pornography technology. Cyberforensics, a new investigative capability that detects global cybercrime, including online fraud and identity theft and cyberthreat intelligence from Microsoft’s botnet takedown operations.

The Center also includes a separate and secure location for third-party partners, allowing cybersecurity experts from around the world to work in the facility with Microsoft’s experts for an indefinite period of time. The dedicated space enriches partnerships across industry, academia, law enforcement and customers who have been recognized as critical partners in the fight against cybercrime. With nearly 100 attorneys, investigators, technical experts and forensic analysts based around the world, the Microsoft Cybercrime Center is well positioned to make it safer for people online worldwide.

Microsoft has a plan to extend the reach of the Center by 12 satellite office in Beijing, Bogota, Berlin, Brussels, Dublin, Edinboro (US), Gurgaon (India), Hong Kong, Munich, Singapore, Sydney and Washington DC. These locations will enable Microsoft to be in a position to pin-point and analyze malware and IP crimes. Again, Misrosoft will be able to share the best cybercrime fighting practices with industry partners and customers on a global scale.

“Cybercrime is becoming a bigger problem in Africa”, says Daniel Kamau, Anti-Piracy lead for East, West, Central Africa and Indian Ocean Island. More and more people get access to internet in Africa. This provides a huge target for criminals, and worse still is the fact that most of the users are unaware of cybercrime. The high rate of software piracy especially in Kenya clearly shows that consumers lack the protection provided by genuine software. Again, the lack of robust cybercrime laws across the Africa continent gives cybercriminals a leeway to commit crime without the fear of getting caught and prosecuted.

In the fight against cybercrime the public sector significantly benefits from private sector expertise, such as provided by Microsoft. The security community needs to build on its coordinated responses to keep pace with today’s cybercriminals. The Microsoft Cybercrime Center will be an important hub in accomplishing that task more effectively and proactively. I think it’s high time Kenya joined in the fight against cybercrime.


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