Microsoft Alliance with FBI: A Model for Fighting Cybercrime


The FBI and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT), working together, took down a network that has committed a series of cyber frauds that have cost banks $500 million. The "Citadel" network, which engineered the thefts, is gone. And the public and private sector have created a model that could be the greatest block against cyber criminals yet, both those working for countries or those for private gains.

The FBI has made halting efforts to work with other government agencies and took down a large cyber crime network in 2011. However, most of the news in the past year regarding international hackers has been about how successful they have been and how little can been done to stop them.

Some of the largest U.S. tech firms have software and hardware that runs on hundreds of millions of servers, personal computers and smart devices around the world. These range from chip providers to OS manufacturers, to search and to email. Among them companies like Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), Microsoft, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL), International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC). These represent what could be, in conjunction with major federal agencies, creators of blocking mechanisms against attacks from a broad range of cyber criminals who live in places like China, and others who are hidden behind cyber walls that they have erected to prevent detection.

It seems that the only hurdle to a huge consortium of government and private sector firms set to combat the growing and seemingly unstoppable threat of sophisticated hacking is the lack of the creation of alliance driven by the decisions of senior U.S. officials and the top managements of tech companies. If indeed, that is what has prevented more of what Microsoft and the FBI have done together, it is a great shame. As the success of cyber crime grows, each member of what could be such a consortium is threatened simply because it has decided to work alone, and that approach has been proven a failure again and again.

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