Microsoft urges joint action on cybercrime

A senior official from US software giant Microsoft has appealed for the private-public partnership in the fight against cybercrime

A senior official from US software giant Microsoft has on Monday appealed for the private and public sectors to link arms to effectively fight a surge in cybercrime.

Speaking at a Council of Europe conference, Tim Cranton, said the number of virus-infected computers in the world has been rising, reaching 63,000 a day in the second half of last year – up 11 percent from a year earlier.

Damage resulting from cybercrime in 2006 was in the region of E200 billion, according to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet fraud complaint centre, he added.

Cranton, a senior attorney at Microsoft and director of its Internet safety enforcement programmes, said bots were being used to trigger replicating virus attacks on computer networks.

Bots are software applications which run automated tasks over the Internet, and a computer infected and compromised with a malicious bot is known as a zombie.

"The threat of zombies or bots has become more prevalent since 2005, primarily because cybercriminals are able to hide behind their anonymity," Cranton said.

He added: "Combatting these threats will take a multi-faceted approach – legally, technically and by educating consumers.

"But we can’t do it alone. The industry is partnering together with governments and law enforcement in the fight against cybercrime."

Christian Aghroum, who spearheads efforts against technology-related crimes at the French interior ministry in Paris, noted that unwanted email can transmit hard-to-detect Trojan viruses, often as picture attachments.

Ninety percent of e-mails today are considered to be spam, a Council of Europe document on Monday noted.

Aghroum also called into question the honesty of some online auction houses, saying that "if you find a car at 10 percent of its price, it’s either been stolen or a phantom".

He proposed the establishment of a European school of technology that would be linked to data security.

The Council of Europe’s convention on cybercrime is the only such binding treaty in the world today, serving as a guideline for nations that want to develop their own similar laws.

Forty-three nations have signed the convention and 19 have ratified it.

Present at Monday’s conference in Strasbourg were representatives of South Africa, the Philippines, Brazil and Egypt who said their nations would reform their national laws on the basis of the convention.

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Microsoft urges joint action on cybercrime