Could you share with our readers about the role of Microsoft in combating online crimes?
We develop softwares, but we also develop cyber forensic tools to track down activities that are illegal and exploitative of people on the Internet. On the one hand we develop softwares to make it easy for the people to access the Internet and stay connected. On the other hand, we also develop tools and ways and means of policing the Internet. Where the crimes committed, those responsible for ensuring security for citizens, can now they use these tools to track down the criminals.
Apart from the training and software, what are the other steps to sensitise the law enforcement agencies?
With law enforcement agencies, we work on a number of parameters and that may be because, we do have lots of online assets. We have MSN, Hot mail, many other blogs and there are training that we do. Apart from training we keep on getting requests from law enforcement agencies on how they can react to a particular situation and how and also in which way we can help them within the ambit of law, privacy and data protection laws that exist in India and other parts of the world. We do support them in terms of how they secure information. We are in constant touch, in a sense that, there are certain things which are ad hoc and reactive and certain programmes like the one we have initiated in India, which is a worldwide programme and we are starting it in India in a big way.
Which are the other countries, where you are implementing this programme?
It has been conducted in number of countries. We have done this in India, Cambodia, Indonesia and Korea as well. We have done this in other parts of the world like Canada in a big way. We started a programme called CUTS, which is an application that has been developed for the World Canadian Mounted Police which is till date led to about 42 convictions as well as which they are very excited about . We are doing it on a worldwide basis We are covering 93 countries under this partnership and 1700 law enforcement people will be trained as part of this exercise.
Can you elaborate upon some other success stories?
CUTS is an evolving programme. The other successful programmes are that we are running in India and in other countries, within the region. The next step is to see how they start working and linking together and I think Interpol is there which is going to play a part, because of its International role. You see, the effectiveness of these programmes will keep on increasing manifold as a multiplier effect as they get expand to other countries.
When did you start in India? After the recent Noida (India) incident where small children were found missing and later their remains were found, the case still under investigation?
No, nothing related to that. These are the programmes planned well in advance. It is just coincidental, that it became very topical. Definitely it was planned well in advance and we also did some what similar capacity building exercise few months ago for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) regarding what are the different sets of issues and different set of technologies that they can use.
What has been the feedback in India?
The feedback is very positive. The Kerala (India) police had really appreciated the way we were able to work on that case. This tells about the effectiveness of of or work and gives us a kind of satisfaction that encourages us to do lots of such work. It is purely citizenship effort, it has nothing to do with any kind of setting up software and not related to any promotional activity by Microsoft. It is purely our work on citizenship perspective and therefore we do not require any other returns other than the fact that people are getting trained, capacity is being built.
What is the role of government? Are they just providing personnel for training or they are also part of it?
It goes back to my earlier point about the public-private-partnership (PPP) and that is the key to the whole exercise. We provide the technology, their role of course is, to use it to become better law enforcers as well. They are good law enforcers anyway, here is the set of tools that are available to them which are more effective than what they are having today. Therefore, we are doing a small part in the whole exercise, it is the government who has to take the whole exercise on and go about it in enforcing the laws and using these tools to the maximum levels possible. What we do is that we train a set of people and we keep on doing that over a period of time, this is not a one time exercise. Whoever gets trained hopefully will go and train further sets of people. We have a continuing programme and not just one time programme.
How many agencies you have covered till now?
In India, we have started with CBI Academy in Ghaziabad and we are moving on to Kerala. We may spread to Maharashtra in next few months.
How one can protect themselves from online crimes?
It is all about awareness. In case of botnets, it is really about making sure that you are not visiting sites, where people can pickup the cookies, address and they can back track to your PCs and do something without your knowledge. When you are downloading the software from a site, you have to make sure that it is from a reliable source and it is not harming your computer.