Microsoft joins the fight against global cybercrime

Just when you thought you’d heard it all Microsoft has teamed up with the FBI and lawmakers in over 80 countries to fight track and shut down cyber criminals that have stolen over $500 million in the past few years.

Microsoft said its Digital Crimes Unit  successfully took down at least 1,000 of an estimated 1,400 malicious computer networks known as the Citadel Botnets.

Citadel infected as many as 5 million PCs around the world and, according to Microsoft, was used to steal from dozens of financial institutions, including: American Express, Bank of America, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, eBay’s PayPal, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Royal Bank of Canada and Wells Fargo.

While the criminals remain at large and the authorities do not know the identities of any ringleaders, the internationally coordinated take-down dealt a significant blow to their cyber capabilities.

“The bad guys will feel the punch in the gut,” said Richard Domingues Boscovich, assistant general counsel with Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit.

Microsoft customers have often found themselves victims of the botnet after installing pirated versions of the Windows. The software also shuts down anti-virus software in order to not be detected. Banks usually refund clients that are victims of cybercrime however $500 million is still a substantial amount for the banks to absorb.

This isn’t the first time Microsoft has shut down a botnet, in 2012 the company performed similar actions to shut down cyber criminals.