Microsoft battles cyber criminals

interns Contributor
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Microsoft Corp. launched a novel legal assault to take down a global network of PCs suspected of spreading spam and harmful computer code, adding what the company believes could become a potent weapon in the battle against cyber criminals.

On Monday, a federal judge in Alexandria, Va., granted Microsoft’s request for an order to deactivate hundreds of Internet addresses that the company linked to an army of tens of thousands of PCs around the globe, infected with computer code that allows them to be harnessed to spread spam, malicious virus programs and mount mass attacks to disable Web sites.

The court order was issued under seal—a rare move in civil cases of this nature—to allow the company to secretly sever communications channels among the computers before the network’s operators could re-establish contact with the machines.

Microsoft’s move is the latest escalation in a continuing battle against cyber crime, whose perpetrators have proved adept at using the Internet and an array of technical tools to evade law enforcement. Electronic nuisances like spam have become potent tools for profit by professional hackers, tricking PC users into passing on harmful software and disclosing credit-card numbers, passwords and other valuable personal information.

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