When Microsoft's not making software or technological marvels in its labs, it's fighting crimes with its Digital Crimes Unit. This morning we learned about one of its missions, from The New York Times, which sounds more like a scene in a movie than something that goes on at a geeky computer company. "Microsoft employees, accompanied by United States marshals, raided two nondescript office buildings in Pennsylvania and Illinois on Friday, aiming to disrupt one of the most pernicious forms of online crime today — botnets, or groups of computers that help harvest bank account passwords and other personal information from millions of other computers," write The Times' Nick Wingfield and Nicole Perlroth. Raiding a crime scene isn't exactly something we associate with Microsoft, but the company has a whole Digital Crimes Unit devote to this type of thing.
From the sounds of it, Microsoft is like the Batman of cyber-crime. Dissatisfied with the way traditional law enforcement agencies have handled Internet evil, the company looks into these security holes itself. "The sweep was part of a civil suit brought by Microsoft in its increasingly aggressive campaign to take the lead in combating such crimes, rather than waiting for law enforcement agencies to act," continue Wingfield and Perlroth. And, like Batman it has the money to do it -- it once offered a $250,000 reward for information related to the identification and conviction of hackers operating a group of bots.