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Microsoft's Cybercrime Center: high-tech digital crimes facility

It’s likely understandable if you’ve never heard of a botnet, provided that you’re not a computer geek or otherwise simply enamored of the subject.

Or, alternatively, if you’re actually creating and using botnets or, conversely, part of a crime team seeking to uncover and either disrupt or entirely take them down.

Botnet is definitely not a word or concept that was in the popular vernacular in Missouri or elsewhere more than a handful of years ago. A botnet is a network of computers purposefully infected with viruses and controlled for criminal purposes, such as to infiltrate websites to procure confidential information.

Most people don’t have much of a clue about botnets, but that is hardly true of a team of sleuths working in a nearly 17,000-square-foot facility on the Microsoft campus near Seattle. Named the Cybercrime Center, the crime-fighting unit went into business just last month, with a stated aim of battling criminal activity such as software piracy, child porn and other acts of Internet crime. Microsoft employees work together with law-enforcement agencies in pursuit of that goal.

The Center, as expected, uses high technology to counter that used by those it seeks to pursue, which equates to a kind of computerized cat-and-mouse game. Its offices, tech tools and strategies are decidedly off limits to public scrutiny.

“As the cybercriminals are getting more sophisticated, our abilities are getting more sophisticated,” says an official employed in the digital-crimes unit of Microsoft.

Although the Center’s stated focus is seemingly centered on large fish, such as international criminal syndicates, its technology is also obviously able to be focused on Internet activities that ensnare lesser targets.

Some of those might even be unwitting participants in crime, or persons who are relatively low on the chain of criminal culpability.

Any person who is targeted in a criminal computer-focused investigation has a legal right to legal representation and to fully promote his or her best interests. A law firm with proven credentials in helping clients defend against Internet crime charges can answer questions and provide strong representation in a criminal matter.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, "Microsoft targets Internet criminals," Janet I. Tu, Nov. 29, 2013

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